By Kristofor Husted (KBIA radio)
At a campaign stop in Columbia Thursday, Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin looked to be like his former primary-winning self. Even though it appears Akin has caught a second wind, the Missouri congressman isn’t out of the woods yet. It seems for every step he takes forward, he gets knocked back one or two — sometimes by his own doing.
His most recent hindrance was caused by — surprise — his misuse of words. While attempting to refer to his opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, as more aggressive in their debate last week, Akin referred to her as not as “ladylike” (as she was in 2006) to the Kansas City Star.
At the time, Akin may not have understood the underlying sexism in that statement, but since then, many others have. Of course, Akin most likely did not mean to conjure up a misogynistic version of himself, but his comment inadvertently pigeonholed McCaskill as a female politician who shouldn’t act like anything other than a lady. To see the fault in this, imagine if all female politicians were held to a “ladylike” standard in which they had to conform to an antiquated gender role. Could you see McCaskill, or Michele Bachmann or Hillary Clinton heeding to their male counterparts in Washington? No way. That’s wherein the issue lies with many voters over Akin’s “ladylike” comment.
On MSNBC (via The Hill) today, McCaskill — whose finger must be sore from constantly pointing out how unlike Akin she is and how extremist he is — said she doesn’t really understand what her opponent meant. She said Akin must have been unprepared to answer her as she went through a list of his extreme positions, so he defaulted to a “she’s mean” response.
The congressman has had a rough go with his campaign since he made controversial comments about pregnancy and rape in August. After Akin apologized multiple times, some voters and political leaders seem to have forgiven him.
The comments were addressed at the recent Senate debate in Columbia. There, McCaskill pointed not to his words, but to the meaning behind the gaffe.
“I think Congressman Akin’s comments opened the window to his views for Missourians,” McCaskill said. “He’s apologized for those comments, but they say a lot about how he views things, and that’s where Missourians have to pay attention.”
McCaskill isn’t the only one going after Akin; the Missouri Democratic Party has filed ethics complaints against the congressman. The complaints — filed Wednesday — allege Akin reversed his stance on earmarks to receive money from a Super PAC. Akin says he has never changed his position.
“The thing that makes earmarks tricky is the fact that different people define it in different ways,” he told reporters Thursday at Columbia’s Republican Headquarters.
Though, when asked for his definition, Akin remained somewhat vague.
“If you want a definition, the Senate has one and when we took a look at that, we were very comfortable with that,” he said.
Akin says he’s spoken with and received support from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt who had initially asked Akin to drop out of the Senate race after his controversial comments.
Akin says he hasn’t heard from the National Republican Senatorial Committee — a group that iced out Akin financially after the controversy. NRSC chairman John Cornyn told The Courier-Journal of Kentucky Thursday that the group has no plans of putting money into the Missouri Senate race.
Akin wrapped up his “Common Sense” bus tour today in Kansas City.