AUGUSTA, Maine — Candidates for Maine’s open U.S. Senate seat rushed Monday to decry Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., for his statements Sunday that pregnancy rarely results from “legitimate rape.”
Charlie Summers, the Republican candidate in Maine’s six-person race to succeed Sen. Olympia Snowe, issued the strongest condemnation of Akin. While some Republicans embroiled in close U.S. Senate races, including Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., called for Akin to quit the Missouri Senate race, Summers went a step further.
“As a husband and a father, I found Rep. Akin’s comments shockingly offensive, reprehensible and indefensible,” Summers said in a statement released by his campaign. “They are beneath the dignity of the U.S. Congress and he should resign effective immediately.”
Andrew Ian Dodge, a Harpswell resident who dropped out of the Republican Party earlier this year to run as an independent, expressed a similar sentiment, while also taking the opportunity to fire a shot at his former party.
“The fact that the man is able to run for U.S. Senate as a Republican is quite disturbing and should disgust everyone involved in American politics,” Dodge wrote in a release. “The 21st century Senate does not need ignorant buffoons like Akin in it. He needs to drop out of the race and return to whatever putrid hole he crawled out from.”
Democratic Party candidate Cynthia Dill issued a lengthy statement. In it, she dismissed Akin’s assertion that he had simply misspoken.
“These aren’t gaffes,” she said. “This is a pattern of thinking about women and their status in 21st century America. … We don’t want this man, who is a sitting member of the U.S. House, anywhere near any laws affecting women in the United States. We don’t want him anywhere near any health care concerns regarding women.”
Dill also called Akin’s remarks the “latest GOP far-right attack on women in this country” and linked it to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s stance on women’s health.
“A Romney-Ryan administration will mean the deconstruction of Medicare, more tax cuts for the wealthy, an assault on women’s rights and higher taxes for the middle class and for working Americans,” she said.
The campaign of former Gov. Angus King, generally considered the frontrunner in Maine’s U.S. Senate contest, characterized Akin’s remarks as a “ridiculous and offensive statement to everyone.”
“Rep. Akin’s comment is a painful reminder of the critical need to choose our political leaders with great and deliberate care,” independent candidate Steve Woods wrote in an email to the Bangor Daily News. “Such a dangerous brand of hateful ignorance has no place in Congress, in America or anywhere in the world.”
Independent candidate Danny Dalton wrote, “Rape is rape and it’s a horrible crime,” and referred questions on his stance on abortions to his website, which states, “It is irrefutable that human life begins at conception, and abortion at any stage is the killing of a human life.”
Dalton adds: “That being said, as your next senator I will take an oath to support and defend the constitution and I will uphold the laws as they stand. I think it is hypocritical for an elected representative to undermine laws in place. … I pray that someday we will have a majority of people in each state who believe as I do, and decide to vote to outlaw abortions, but until that day comes the matter is legally settled.”
“Congressman Akin’s comments are not only outrageous and bizarre, they are also without any factual basis,” Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement. “His comments are deeply offensive and hurtful to all women, especially survivors of rape and sexual assault.”
Akin recently won the Republican nomination to oppose Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in a closely watched U.S. Senate contest. After narrowly defeating sitting Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Talent in 2006, McCaskill was seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents, and national political observers considered Missouri a likely gain for Republicans hoping to gain control of the U.S. Senate.
Before Sunday’s television interview in which he defended his position against abortion in all circumstances by saying that pregnancy rarely results from sexual assault because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” polls showed Akin slightly ahead.
Now, Democrats, Republicans and independents from as far away as Maine are calling for his withdrawal. If Akin withdraws from the U.S. Senate race in Missouri by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the state’s Republican party would be able to replace him on the ballot.