News from the Votemaster
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), said Sunday that "legitimate rape" victims don't get pregnant (with the implication that his antiabortion crusade need not have an exception for rape victims since they don't get pregnant anyway). Actually, 32,000 women a year become pregnant through rapes. Akin's statement sent shivers through the entire Republican Party as all the leaders had nightmares of the gender gap becoming something more like the Grand Canyon, with women rejecting not only Akin, but Republicans in general.
For people not following discussions of rape in Congress closely, the dog whistle "legitimate rape" may not be obvious. Earlier this year, every House Republican and 16 Blue Dog Democrats voted for a bill that would have redefined rape in federal statutes to be "forcible rape." If this bill had become law, then statutory rape, the rape of a drugged or mentally impaired woman, or any rape where the rapist did not use physical force would not be considered rape. The bill died in the Senate. When Akin said "legitimate rape" he undoubtedly meant "forcible rape" as defined by the House bill but forgot the exact terminology.
Yesterday, many leading Republicans called for Akin to withdraw from the race. The NRSC and Karl Rove's groups pulled their funding immediately. They all applied the maximum amount of pressure they could, but so far, Akin is staying the course. Tuesday is going to be real tough, but if he hangs on until 5 P.M. today, things get a lot more complicated. Under state law, before that time, he can just drop out by saying he is out. After 5 P.M. he needs permission from a judge. A court case about this is not what the doctor ordered (at least not for the Republicans). If Akin drops out, the Missouri Republican Party gets to pick the nominee. They could pick either of the losers in the state primary (former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman or businessman John Brunner), former senator Jim Talent, or someone else.
All this puts the national and state Republicans in a real bind. The more they attack Akin publicly (in order to get him out and also to distance themselves from what he said), the more material his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has to use against him if he stays in. But look at this from Akin's point of view. He has spent a year campaigning, begging for money and going through the hell that a modern campaign is. He gave up his safe seat in the House and won a nasty three-way primary. Then he got on television and said what he undoubtedly really believes and suddenly the entire Republican establishment unloads on him. Saturday he was the hero who was going to deliver the Senate to the Republicans and Monday he is a pariah. And now those ungrateful fellows want him to give it all up, just when the polls show him winning big.
Who knows what kinds of pressure will yet be brought to bear on Akin today. The national party and some of the superPACs have already cut off his funding, but he can probably make up some of it by getting donations from people who are indeed opposed to all abortions, even in the case of rape. Some anti-abortion groups have doubled down on their support for Akin.
For the record, McCaskill called for him to stay in the race since there was a primary and Missouri Republicans said they wanted him. They should be entitled to the candidate they chose according to her. As an aiside, McCaskill is a former prosecutor and has prosecuted hundreds of rape cases.
If Akin stays in, Obama and the Democrats are going to use him as the poster boy for what they call the Republicans' "War on Women." Between the forcible rape bill, the attempts to get contraceptive services out of Obamacare, Rush Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke, and now this, they are going to talk about women's issues until the cows come home. This is why the entire Republican leadership desperately wants Akin out.
Akin canceled an appearance on CNN last night, which prompted host Piers Morgan to call him a "gutless little twerp," not the kind of language journalists normally use.
The Republican Party platform is going to contain a call for an amendment to the Constitution forbidding all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest. Anti-abortion planks have been a staple of GOP platforms for years but there are always battles about the exact wording and whether pregnancies resulting from rape and incest should be excepted. Many Republicans believe that a zygote is a full-fledged human being with all the rights of one and thus terminating a pregnancy is murder, irrespective of the circumstances of conception.
The July financial reports are now in and Mitt Romney has $186 million in the bank to President Obama's $124 million. In July, the Democrats raised $75 million to the Republicans $101 million. Not only did the Democrats raise less, but they are spending it faster, in part creating infrastructure but also on television ads. Unlike 2008, when Obama had a big cash advantage over John McCain after the conventions, this time Romney will have a big advantage. In addition, the secretive superPACs on the Republican side are greatly outraising and outspending the ones on the Democratic side.
Not only are the Republicans raising more money than the Democrats at the presidential level, but also for Senate races. In July, the NRSC raised $12 million to the DSCC's $8 million. The NRSC also has more cash on hand, $49 million to $36 million.
Although early voting in Ohio will start weeks before the election, a new state law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature stops early voting on the Friday before election day except for military families, which can vote during the weekend. The Montgomery County elections board threatened to allow any registered voter to vote during the weekend until the Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, a Republican, suspended two members of the board. However, this is only a skirmish in a much larger battle in Ohio, where Democrats have sued the state in federal court over the question of whether the state can have the polls open on the weekend for some (e.g., military) voters but not others. If a state can do this, can it also have different voting hours for men and women? For whites and blacks? The possibilities are legion.
|Oklahoma||29%||58%||Jul 26||Aug 14||Sooner Poll|
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