As for this year’s platform committee, the chairman was Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, famous for its proposal to require an intrusive ultrasound for women seeking a legal abortion within the first trimester. He tried to hide the clear intent of this year’s platform, which is identical to Akin’s. McDonnell argues that the platform doesn’t force a woman to bear a rapist’s child and that it is up to the states to make her.
McDonnell’s fellow Republican in Virginia, former governor George Allen, is in a tight Senate contest with former Democratic governor Tim Kaine. Allen denounced Akin’s comments “and the sentiments behind them,” even though as a senator in 2004 Allen voted to confirm a federal judge who said that “concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”
All Republican Senate candidates got distance from Akin when Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Akin “wrong, offensive, and indefensible” and cut off his money.
None of these sticks and stones prompted Akin to withdraw by the 5 p.m. Sept. 25 deadline. Before he was battered by his party, Akin led incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. She now leads by six points in one recent poll, a lead that is likely to grow when she unleashes a fusillade of ads — the first of which aired just minutes after the deadline had passed.
Republicans will eventually have to find a way to retreat from their bombardment of Akin. For better or worse, he is now their candidate. That might be hard for some Republican candidates, but there is one prominent member of the party for whom it shouldn’t be a problem: Mitt Romney has had a lot of practice changing his position.