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January 26, 2015

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Heller disavows Akin’s comments on rape


Orlin Wagner / AP

In this Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, photograph, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., and his wife Lulli, talk with reporters while attending the Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo.

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

Sen. Dean Heller added his voice to the growing chorus of Republicans calling on Missouri Rep. Todd Akin to drop his 2012 bid for the Senate, after Akin claimed that women didn’t get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape.”

Akin was explaining to a local Fox television station in Missouri why he doesn’t believe abortions in cases of rape are necessary when he said: “From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Shock, expressions of incredulity and calls for Akin to bow out of the race have been pouring forth since the interview aired Sunday from both Democrats and Republicans. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pointedly distanced himself from Akin’s comments early Monday and later in the day National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn told Akin to take the next 24 hours to reevaluate his campaign and consider “what is best” for the GOP.

Heller echoed those sentiments Monday afternoon.

“Todd Akin’s comments were unquestionably inappropriate and absurd,” Heller said in a statement his campaign circulated Monday. “He should not be the standard bearer for the Republican Party in Missouri.”

But while Republicans are making a point of stepping away from Akin’s comments, they may get swept up in the political fallout from his bumbling of biological facts.

This isn’t the first time Washington has debated the nuances of reproduction this year. Since this spring’s brouhaha over whether employers should be required to provide insurance coverage for birth control, Democrats have been accusing Republicans of being “anti-woman” — a line of attack used often by Heller’s opponent Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Heller hasn’t opposed abortions in cases of rape or incest, but he has supported efforts to cut government funding for some organizations, like Planned Parenthood, that provide them. He also supported efforts to let companies refuse to offer contraception coverage as part of their health care plans.

As Republicans scrambled to disavow Akin, Democrats strove to play up those connections, on the national level, and in Nevada.

“Although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying forcible rape versus nonforcible rape, I think those are broader issues,” President Barack Obama told reporters Monday. “And that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.”

“The comments by Rep. Todd Akin are outrageous and disgusting but not surprising given the many attacks against women we've seen from Washington Republicans like Sen. Dean Heller, including votes against equal pay for equal work, to restrict access to birth control and to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Berkley campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “This rare moment of honesty only further highlights the clear choice for Nevadans in this election between two competing philosophies on the issues that matter to women.”

How much that will matter in the race between Heller and Berkley, however, is not yet clear. Recent polls show that Democrats are already leading Republicans by a significant percentage when it comes to female voters. The most recent national poll, from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, showed Obama pulling about 54 percent of female voters as opposed to Romney, who is drawing only 39 percent.

The split between Berkley and Heller was much closer earlier this summer, however. A poll in early June from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, showed Berkley drawing 46 percent of women voters in Nevada and Heller pulling 40 percent.

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  1. Paul Ryan, the GaffeMan's V.P. candidate...

    Has the EXACT SAME POSITIONS on Abortion as this clown; and has actually been NUMERO UNO at the Fed level writing legislation to strip women of their rights...

    Will Dean 'Hobo' Heller distance himself from Ryan as well?

  2. This guy isn't smart enough to deserve an elected office. If I were a Republican politician I'd be running away from him too.

  3. Karoun, maybe you want to follow up with Senator Heller:

    HELLER VOTED TO REDEFINE RAPE, in May of last year when he voted for the Akin/Ryan-sponsored H.R. 3, which, among other things, unnecessarily qualifying rape as "forcible."

    Can anyone in the Nevada press bother to ask Senator Heller what other kinds of rape there are?

  4. Welcome to the 2012 Senatorial election process. Dean Heller has been hidden from most voter's eyes as a "cow county" House representative for years. After Ensign's (remember him) ignominious departure, Heller was "appointed" to Ensign's Senate seat. Not by virtue of his record of voting, or his popularity statewide, or his actual electability; NO! It was an appointment based on pure politics. The GOP governor "appointed" this a**hat to the Senate. Now, finally, this neanderthal political hack has to face the ENTIRE STATE ELECTORATE to keep his undeserved "appointment" to the Senate seat he now sits in. He backs the destruction of Medicare, and every other neanderthal plank of the GOP right wing agenda. He is a Norquist clone, and a rubber stamp for anything the 'baggers tell him is the right way to go. He is a RyAYN supporter, and a rubber stamp for anything 'bagger in nature. Denouncing Akin was a no brainer. The GOP is running from Akin like he has the plague. Of course Heller would throw the clown under the bus.

  5. To add to what ksand99 stated in his comments that Heller, when he was in the House, voted for a bill (HR3) brought forth by Akin/Ryan, I'd just like to point out something else that is also confusing about the way Heller thinks and votes.

    It came out today that Reince What'sHisFace, the RNC Chairman, stated it is the definitive GOP platform they are against all forms of abortion.

    And since Heller NEVER EVER bucks against his GOoPer masters, he is trusted and compelled to toe the ultra-conservative line. And he will not disappoint them. This means that what Heller just said regarding all this is total nonsense.

    In Nevada, according to the GOP, if a woman is impregnated in a despicable act of incest by her father, then she MUST have that child. No exceptions.

    In Nevada, according to the GOP, if a woman is impregnated during a violent act of rape, then SHE must have that child. Even if she could die from injuries incurred during that rape.

    Both of these instances Heller agrees with since he follows the GOP platform. Cut and dried. No exceptions. Heller is against abortion.

    People need to wake up.

    This IS the Tea/Republican Party nowadays. They are Christian Conservative evangelical ultra-conservative nut cases. And their fanaticism knows no boundaries.

    Heller, maybe inadvertently, is immersed in with these nuts. And his record shows he will NEVER go against their votes.

    This makes him unelectable. We don't need fanatics in government representing Nevada. He is a total hypocrite. And he needs to go on November 6, 2012.

    My vote goes for sanity.

    Berkley 2012!