President Obama’s Punxsutawney Phil appearance in the White House press briefing room is a textbook case of the power of the presidency — and the ability of the person who wields it to not-so-subtly make life difficult for political opponents. Obama touched on a number of topics, but it was his remarks on the “legitimate rape” comment by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) that will dominate the national conversation.
“The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape,” the president said of the Missouri Senate candidate. “And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people. And it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.” Obama’s appearance and comments serve to prolong the political pain of this story for Republicans. But his view is part of a bipartisan flash mob of condemnation of Akin.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan amped up their criticism of Akin. Romney told the National Review, “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong. Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.” Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was the first member of the Senate to call on Akin to get out of the race. Now, comes word, via The Fix, that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the man in charge of winning the Senate back for the GOP, has informed Akin that he won’t be getting another dime from the party. And then there was the news, via Politico, that Karl Rove’s conservative nonprofit group, Crossroads GPS, will stop spending on ads for Akin.
Akin told Mike Huckabee on his radio show this morning that he’s staying in the race. He has until 5 p.m. tomorrow to decide whether he will spend more time with his family or whatever excuse Akin comes up with to avoid dealing with the stunning ignorance his comment exposed.
With the president of the United States, the presumptive presidential and vice presidential nominees of the Republican Party and just about every political leader of consequence saying in word and deed that Akin needs to quit the race, to continue running for the Senate would be shameless.