A Republican official in Missouri has jumped into the Todd Akin rape fray, joining former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in finding a silver lining to rape.
Sharon Barnes, a member of the state Republican Central Committee, defended Rep. Todd Akin on Monday. Akin, a Tea Party-backed congressman representing Missouri's 2nd congressional district who is also running for Senate, sparked widespread outrage over the weekend after opining that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate rape."
Political leaders from both parties lined up to condemn Akin. President Barack Obama declared that "rape is rape." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney slammed Akin's comments as "inexcusable," "insulting" and "wrong." Republican senators like Wisconsin's Rob Johnson and Scott Brown of Massachusetts called on Akin to quit his Senate race. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate campaign committee, has also reportedly asked Akin to withdraw.
Fearing for its future in the upcoming November elections, the Republican party leadership is trying to oust Akin from his race. The New York Timesreports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has announced it will withdraw financial and organization support for Akin, including $5 million in advertising earmarked for his campaign.
Only Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate seemed to voice indirect support for Akin, opining on his syndicated radio show that some extraordinary people have been born from forcible rape.
Now Sharon Barnes has weighed in, praising Akin's "totally, firmly, solidly pro-life" stance. Akin, she told the New York Times, believes that "abortion is never an option."
Barnes agreed that few rapes result in pregnancy and told the Times that if such a pregnancy does result, "God has chosen to bless this person with a life."
"You don't kill it. That's more what I believe [Akin] was trying to state," she said. "He just phrased it badly."
In an interview on KTVI's "The Jacobo Report," Rep. Akin was speaking about his staunch opposition to abortion. When asked if that included rape victims, Akin replied:
"It seems to me, 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."
Akin has since apologized and retracted his comments. Appearing on Huckabee's radio show, he said, "I've made a couple of serious mistakes that were just wrong, and I need to apologize for those."
The six-term congressman is vowing to remain in the Senate race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has called Akin "ignorant" for his rape remarks.
"I'm not a quitter," Akin defiantly declared on Monday. "My belief is we're going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God, we're going to win this race."
That suits Sharon Barnes just fine. Once people get to know Akin, she told the Times, they'll see "what a great, conservative, godly man" he is, "and they'll put his comment in its proper context."