Republican congressional candidate Brendan Doherty says Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s controversial statements Sunday about the purported effects of “legitimate rape” should be a firing offense.
“Brendan thinks that that is one of the dumbest things that he’s ever heard, and Akin should step down,” Doherty campaign manager Ian Prior told WPRI.com on Monday.
Akin is the Republican candidate against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is widely seen as that chamber’s most endangered incumbent Democrat. Another New England Republican, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, called on Akin to drop out of the Senate race this morning.
Informed about Brown’s declaration, Prior said: “We echo that. There’s no place for that.” During an interview televised Sunday, Akin described pregnancies caused by rape as “really rare,” saying: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Speaking on WPRO earlier Monday morning, Doherty said he hadn’t heard Akin’s comments. Asked how the candidate reacted afterwards when he was informed of them, Prior said: “I don’t think he would want what he actually said about Akin’s comments to go on the record, because it shouldn’t be in print.”
Democratic Congressman David Cicilline and Doherty are locked in a fierce battle in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, and Cicilline is seeking to draw a bright contrast with Doherty on women’s issues, including abortion. The Democrat’s campaign manager, Eric Hyers, called Akin’s comments “hideous.”
“Sending Doherty to Congress would put these people and their radical and dangerous views in power,” Hyers told WPRI.com, adding that Doherty’s failure to repudiate Akin on WPRO “is extremely concerning.”
Anthony Gemma, Cicilline’s opponent in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, also criticized the Missouri Republican, though he didn’t try to connect him with Doherty. “Anthony Gemma believes Rep. Akin’s words are deplorable, but, given their origin, hardly surprising,” Gemma spokesman Alex Morash told WPRI.com.
Doherty opposes federal funding for abortion but has sought to downplay the issue. “Roe v. Wade is at this point the law of the land,” Prior said. “Brendan will certainly respect the parameters of Roe v. Wade.”
“Of course he’s pro-life – he’s said that several times – and he will look to try and make abortions as rare as possible,” Prior continued. “But he’s not going to Washington to make the pro-life versus pro-choice battle his primary concern. He wants to go to Washington to help make America a more friendly place for a better economy and brings jobs back to America and Rhode Island.”
• Related: Raimondo will help Cicilline woo back key voter bloc: women (Aug. 16)
This post has been updated.