Failed Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) has recently re-emerged in the public sphere to defend his claim in 2012 that women who were victims of “legitimate rape” could not get pregnant. In a phone interview with St. Louis Dispatch, the former congressman compared himself sympathetically to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who spearheaded an infamous Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. Akin argued that McCarthy was another victim “assassinated by the media.”
“I use McCarthy as an example of someone who was assassinated by the media, so he had no credibility,” Akin told the Dispatch, drawing parallels to his own experience with waht he believes were “intentional and dishonest” misreadings of his statement. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” Akin said in 2012 in response to a question about allowing abortions in the case of rape or incest.
McCarthy has become synonymous with anti-Communist hysteria after he led a series of hearings targeting government workers and artists considered to be left-leaning or suspected of homosexuality. Because of his crusade, hundreds were jailed under suspicion of Communist ties with no evidence. Many more lost their jobs.
Akin rescinds his apology for the offensive and inaccurate remarks in his new book, “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom,” insisting that the liberal media and certain conservatives ganged up on him to sink his campaign. Akin reiterated this belief to the Dispatch, saying, “It wasn’t that the Republican Party left me wounded on the battlefield. They came out on the battlefield and tried to dispatch me.”
The Republican establishment did try to publicly distance itself from Akin as his campaign floundered, though a sizable number of right-wing groups kept funding him. In an attempt to prevent another debacle this campaign cycle, the GOP has tried to train candidates to stop talking about rape and start being more conscious of female and non-white voters. Despite these efforts, the GOP’s 2014 candidates have already opined on what counts as legitimate rape and argued that marital rape should be legal.