At a news conference Monday, Obama reacted to the remark by Rep.Todd Akin (R-Mo.), that women who are victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant, saying "rape is rape."
CBS News reports that Todd Akin, six-term Missouri Republican, running for the US Senate against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), was asked in an interview on Sunday why he opposes abortion even in cases of rape. He answered: "It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
President Obama at a news conference in the White House, condemned the Missouri Republican's statement and highlighted the differences between Democratic and Republican stance on women's reproductive health issues.
The White House had not given any prior notice that President Obama would give a news conference. According to The Washington Post, Obama interrupted White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's daily briefing. He criticized Akin's comment, saying, "The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."
According to Talking Points Memo, Obama said Akin's comment reflects GOP’s anti-abortion record. He linked the comment to a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan, that would limit federal funding of abortions to victims of "forcible rape."
While top Republicans have called for Akin to leave the race, Obama did not call for Akin to drop out of the Senate race, he only used the opportunity to bring attention to the differences in his administration's health care policy and the Republicans'. He said: "He was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri. I will let them sort that out."
Obama's remarks follows Mitt Romney's who, earlier in the day, condemned Akin's comment. NY Daily News reports that Mitt Romney, during a telephone interview with the National Review Online, condemned Akin's comments as “insulting, inexcusable, and frankly, wrong.”
Several other top Republicans, including the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have called on Akin to end his campaign and reconsider his candidacy. CBS News reports McConnell said: "What he said is just flat wrong in addition to being wildly offensive to any victim of sexual abuse. Although Representative Akin has apologized, I believe he should take time with his family to consider whether this statement will prevent him from effectively representing our party in this critical election."
Digital Journal reports Republican Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have also called for Akin to drop out of the Senate race.
According to the NY Daily News, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee says it is withholding the $5million it planned to spend on Akin's race.
In spite of the pressure on him, the Missouri Republican has refused to end his campaign and abandon his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He apologized for his statement but insisted he would remain in the race. He said on Mike Huckabee's radio show on Monday: "Rape is never legitimate. I used the wrong words in the wrong way," but he added: “I am in this race to win.”
CBS News reports that Huckabee asked him if by "legitimate rape" he meant "forcible rape." Akin answered: "I was talking about forcible rape, and it was absolutely the wrong word." He said that in spite of his statement, he understands that women do get pregnant from rape. He admitted he made a "very, very serious error." He said: "I don't know that I'm the only person in public office who suffered from foot-in-mouth disease. I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing Claire McCaskill... Just because someone makes a mistake doesn't make them useless."
He cancelled an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan. The Daily Kos reports that Morgan, reacting to Akin's failure to appear for the interview, said: "If you don’t keep your promise to be on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain a gutless little twerp."
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, responding to Akin's statement that he "used the wrong words," said “Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here. The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong."
The Washington Post reports that the Republican Party cannot force Akin to drop out of the race but he could resign by 5 p.m. Tuesday or withdraw from the race on court order by Sept. 25.