A brief history of Todd Akin’s controversial statements

August 22, 2012

When Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said in an interview broadcast Sunday that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy, he triggered a national backlash and widespread denunciations.


(Orlin Wagner/AP)

Before the interview, Akin was a low-profile congressman largely unknown outside Missouri. But those who have followed his career know that Akin has stoked controversy with his public statements and positions on a range of subjects. Here's a look at other controversial things Akin has said (Politicker and MSNBC also have useful rundowns):

* "America has got the equivalent of stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in." Akin made this comment during an April candidate debate when he was asked whether he would support legislation that would prevent student loan interest rates from rising. A limited-government conservative, Akin added, "the government needs to get its nose out of the education business." Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) released a TV ad attacking Akin's comments. McCaskill's spot featured students, including one who asked, "Student loans are like cancer?"

* “At the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God." Akin made the remark in a 2011 interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who said Tuesday that he will continue to support Akin's Senate bid. In the 2011 interview, Akin and Perkins were discussing NBC's decision to edit out the words "under God" from the pledge of allegiance during the broadcast of a golf tournament.

Perkins asked Akin why he thought NBC would do such a thing. "Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal," Akin responded. He then offered his "At the heart of liberalism" comment. Akin later said his statement was directed at a movement, not any specific individuals.

* "My guess is it's somewhere in the 6 or 7, but I don't know the exact number right now." Akin made this remark during a March GOP candidate debate, in response to a question about what the nation's minimum wage is, and whether it should be increased. Akin also said he "doesn't think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things." To put Akin's comments in a more specific context, both of Akin's opponents at the debate were unable to correctly identify the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

* “I have a very serious concern about erosion of states' rights, and reversing this [amendment] might pull that balance back." Weighing on the 17th Amendment (which allows for direct election of senators) at a May debate, Akin said he was leaning toward repealing the measure. Akin received national attention when "The Colbert Report" caught wind of Akin's comment and included his position in a segment.

* "The local militia can bring a positive influence to our community. Your patriotism and concern for our state and nation is to be commended." This statement is noteworthy because Akin reportedly wrote it in a 1995 letter to a private militia group with ties to the militant anti-abortion movement. Akin later said, “It was just a courtesy letter saying, hey, I think you ought to focus on natural disasters and stuff. I didn’t know who they were, I didn’t want to have anything to do with them." The connection between Akin and the group surfaced as an issue in his 2000 congressional campaign.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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