Alaska Senator Murkowski Calls for Akin to Step Aside Over Offensive Comments
FAIRBANKS — Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday expressed strong displeasure with inflammatory comments about abortion made by Republican Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, and she joined a growing list of GOP leaders calling for Akin to quit the key race.
“I join many Alaskans in finding Rep. Todd Akin’s comments incredibly offensive and I strongly encourage him to step aside,” Murkowski said on her Twitter account Tuesday.
Akin has so far declined to drop out from the race to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Tuesday was the deadline in Missouri for Akin to withdraw without petitioning a court to remove his name from the November ballot. He did not withdraw.
Murkowski, in an interview Tuesday evening, said she learned of Akin’s comments Monday as she was about to leave for a visit to the Aleutian Islands and that the comments bothered her so much that, upon returning to communications on Adak Island after being out of reach on Shemya and Attu islands, she instructed one of her aides to send the tweet.
“I can’t believe a guy running for the U.S. Senate but also a current congressman would make this kind of statement,” she said. “I don’t think this helps Republicans in our effort to pick up Missouri. I thought we had a chance.”
“Missouri is one of those states we’ve been watching very carefully.”
The controversy arose out of Akin’s interview Sunday with a St. Louis television station.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said in the interview, regarding pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Republicans are banking on a victory in Missouri to help them secure the seats needed to gain control of the Senate. McCaskill has been viewed as vulnerable to defeat since Missouri has been trending Republican.
GOP leaders have grown increasingly concerned that the controversy could harm GOP prospects in November, both in Missouri and elsewhere in the nation. Akin drew a rebuke from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Murkowski said the furor over Akin’s remarks isn’t a manufactured controversy.
“I looked clearly at the statement to make sure it wasn’t taken out of context,” she said. “I’m somewhat stunned by the comments made by this congressman that stated that somehow a ‘legitimate rape’ could somehow prevent a pregnancy.”
Murkowski said the controversy over Akin’s remarks detracts from the debate about the nation’s economy. She noted how Republicans were criticized several months ago during what was described by Democrats as the “War on Women.”
“I thought we were beyond it and talking about things we need to be talking about,” she said. “Now I think this just moves us back to this potential for attack toward Republicans on women’s issues.”
Murkowski is generally considered a moderate on abortion. She opposes the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, but she said in an interview during her 2010 primary campaign against Tea Party-backed Joe Miller that she supports some limits.
“Federal funding should not be used for abortions, and I have been quite consistent in my approach to that,” she said at the time. “I also recognize, as the Supreme Court did, that while the courts have ruled abortion beyond a certain stage is lawful, there are situations when there should be restrictions on abortion, and I have strongly supported a ban on partial-birth abortion.”
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