For the second time this week, Akin’s campaign is making headlines. The wrong kind.
The latest misstep began as an effort to show that women really and truly do support Akin, a conservative Republican, in his bid to wrest the senate seat from Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill.
To that end, a photo showing Akin, his wife, Lulli, and two other women, was posted on the campaign Web site with a headline that said, “I’m a women [sic] and I support Todd,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But there was a teensy little problem. A fly in the ointment. Or you might say a Democrat in the photo.
That would be Corinne Matti, who’s employed full-time by the Missouri Democratic Party, as a “tracker.” Both parties hire people to attend public events for the opposition and report on what goes on. It’s sort of like a spy, but without the intrigue and secrecy.
Matti told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she does her job openly and that the Akins do know who she is. Yet they insisted she be included in a photo that was taken last year and that ended up on the Web site briefly Tuesday.
But the Web site wasn’t supposed to go live when it did, a spokesman from Akin's campaign told the paper. (My attempts to get a response regarding this issue failed.)
Earlier this week, Lulli Akin, the candidate’s wife, equated his treatment by GOP party bosses to “tyranny” and “rape,” drawing on comparisons to the British and the Colonists during the American Revolution.
You’d think the family would stay away from rape metaphors after it was Akin’s comment to a St. Louis television interviewer about “legitimate rape” that pushed him into the national spotlight.
It’s hard not to worry that a campaign fraught with mistakes doesn’t speak well for how the candidate will perform his job once elected.
To help fight all this negative publicity, conservative women gathered Tuesday night to show their support for Akin at a St. Louis event billed as “Women Standing with Todd Akin.”
Leading the charge was Phyllis Schlafly (I saw her debate against the Equal Rights Amendment back when I was in college).
Since then, Akin’s Web site has been updated with a posed shot of nearly 20 women, dressed in white, with three holding young children. It’s a diverse group, featuring several African-Americans and with a heavy emphasis on youth.
A video offers seven minutes of testimonials from women on topics they hold near and dear. Targeting the heart strings is the tattooed 30-something single mom who says, “Having had an abortion, I realize that Todd is advocating for women.” Near tears, she continues, “It breaks my heart that women think that choice is the answer…it’s such a temporary situation…and it’s a permanent solution.”
Other women discuss pornography, government regulation, out-of-control spending and education.
Missing? Discussions of equal pay for equal work (Akin voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act), access to health care and the freedom to control one's own reproductive choices – the targets many Democratic women would argue have come under fire in the War on Women.
It was Heather Kesselring, a speaker at the St. Louis event, who may have summed it up best: “This War on Women’ that’s been declared, I would just [like] to politely disagree with what that War on Women is.”
Depends on which side you’re on.
Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter @dianareese.