‘Rape’ gaffe pushes abortion into US race
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
President Barack Obama (C) and first lady Michelle Obama have dinner in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C., with winners of a campaign contest. AP photoWhite House rivals President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney condemned on Aug. 20 a Republican lawmaker’s shock claim that women can prevent pregnancy during rape, sparking an abortion debate likely to impact the election campaign.
But while Romney scrambled to distance his campaign from his party ally’s statement, Obama seized on the gaffe to embarrass his opponent and underline the gap between their positions. Congressman Todd Akin, his party’s nominee for the Senate race in Missouri, triggered outrage on Aug. 19 when he said a woman’s body can block an unwanted pregnancy during what he termed a “legitimate rape.” Obama acknowledged Romney had distanced himself, but nevertheless found a way to twist the knife during an appearance at the White House briefing room, telling reporters: “The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape, and the idea we should be parsing... what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people,” he said, quickly turning to the broader issue of abortion rights.
Akin’s remark angered Romney. “Congressman Akin’s comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney told the conservative National Review Online. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.” Akin apologized for the comments on Aug. 20,but pledged to continue his race.