GOP to Todd Akin: Shut up
By: Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti
July 10, 2014 02:25 PM EDT
Todd Akin is back talking about rape in his new book and Republicans have a message for him: Shut up.
The Missouri Republican’s memoir offers no apologies for his comments on “legitimate rape”, his bruising loss to Sen. Claire McCaskill or the effect many Republicans say his remarks had on the 2012 field — when the Senate slipped through their fingers.
Several operatives, consultants and politicians didn’t waste any time responding to attacks in the new book, “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom,” set to be released July 15. A copy was provided to POLITICO early.
“Todd Akin is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the sole reason Claire McCaskill is still part of Harry Reid’s majority,” said Brian Walsh, who served as communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2012 cycle.
“It’s frankly pathetic that just like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, he refuses to take any responsibility for sticking his foot in his mouth, alienating voters and costing Republicans a critical Senate seat. Worse, he’s now trying to make money off his defeat. The sooner he leaves the stage again the better.”
The GOP has vowed to prevent the stumbles on social issues that plagued Republican candidates on the trail last cycle. So their overwhelming reaction to Akin: his five minutes of fame need to be over.
In his book, Akin serves up harsh words for 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) and GOP operative Karl Rove for abandoning him following his now infamous line about rape and pregnancy, that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin puts Romney in his cross hairs over the presidential candidates decision to not defend him. He argues that Romney should have pivoted on the issue to attack Democrats and former President Bill Clinton in particular.
But former Romney aides say that it sounds like a lot of sour grapes from Akin.
“Todd Akin has no one to blame for his loss but Todd Akin,” said Kevin Madden, a former senior advisor to Romney. “Anyone looking at the question reasonably would conclude it doesn’t make any sense for a former candidate to just assign blame to a long list of rattled off names. Mitt Romney, from Massachusetts, won Missouri by 10 points. Todd Akin lost by 16 points. It’s fairly simple.”
Akin writes that Romney should have defended him by using Clinton’s sexual indiscretions and an alleged comment that one woman “put some ice on that” as Clinton was set to give a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Clinton allies also see Akin bringing up the former president as desperate.
“Todd Akin’s discreditable jabs are coming from a former right-wing politician who spent his entire time in public service opposing equal pay laws and choice, and who in his new book reiterates his strong belief that women’s bodies have the ability to shut down during what he calls legitimate rape,” said Adrienne Elrod, communications director for Correct the Record. “Akin’s cheap shots at the Clintons are nothing but a desperate and failed attempt to stay relevant.”
Akin’s defense of his controversial comments in the book only shows that Rove and his Crossroads outfits made the right decision by pulling out of the race, said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for Crossroads.
“Todd Akin’s increasingly intricate theories of legitimate rape only deepen our conviction that we made the right call in 2012,” he said. “His failed campaign ultimately helped convince us to get involved in primaries this cycle to help the party avoid squandering more opportunities in winnable seats.”
American Crossroads spent about $65,000 opposing Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2012.
For Blunt’s part, the Missouri Republican appears to not be paying his criticism any heed. Akin wrote that blunt left a “bloody war club with his fingerprints all over it” to get him to quit the Senate race.
“Senator Blunt appreciates the service Todd Akin has given to our country and the service his sons continue to give,” said Blunt spokeswoman Amber Marchand. “He thinks Congressman Akin is a good man and well-intentioned, but based on what he has heard about the book, Senator Blunt has decided not to read it.”
By attacking Blunt and others, Akin is pointing fingers at everyone but himself, said David Barklage, a Missouri-based Republican consultant.
“This type of name-calling is to hide the fact that party leadership has a responsibility to protect the party label and its interests,” Barklage said. “People talk about personal responsibility in the party. He’s still not admitting how much of a distraction this was for the election and the Republican Party.”
Even though Akin’s book comes as the GOP tries to capitalize on its chance of taking back the Senate in November, Barklage said Akin’s comments will not hurt the party’s image like it did in 2012.
“It shows that the Republican Party has high standards. His story illustrates that the Republican Party is its own best watchdog.”
Randy Gutermuth, GOP strategist who has worked for several Missouri politicians including Blunt and former Sen. Jim Talent, also said Akin’s attacks were unwarranted, especially since there’s no way for the former congressman to turnaround his political career.
“It’s disappointing given the efforts the entire state delegation and Sen. Blunt made to help him raise money and organize,” Gutermuth said.
“I’m not sure what a pathway to a comeback would be for him.”