Congressman Todd Akin is the latest politician to make a mistake that garnered national attention, but this one can be put in the "major gaffe" category.
The conservative Republican U.S. Representative was being interviewed on a St. Louis TV station about his views on abortion when he was asked whether abortion should be illegal in all cases, including when a woman is raped. His response ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media that grew to a public denunciation from the Romney-Ryan campaign by the end of the night.
Akin said, "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But, let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
Mr. Akin quickly backtracked from his taped comments, saying he "misspoke."
A statement released by his campaign read: "In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year."
The Romney campaign came out with a comment saying, "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement. A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."
This is in line with Romney's beliefs, but is a change in thinking for Rep. Ryan, who has co-authored eight anti-abortion bills with Akin, including one that would redefine rape as "forcible rape."
The question now is: Will this flap turn abortion into a hot-button campaign issue? Will Akin's comments hurt the Romney-Ryan ticket, or have they properly distanced themselves from the statement?
The Missouri race is a key one for Republicans who seemed poised to gain a seat in the U.S. Senate. Akin had been beating Sen. Claire McCaskill in all major polls. So, how does the GOP play this one? Does Akin stay in the race or do they try and get someone he beat in the primary to take his place?
FOX 9 News spoke with Ed Morrissey, Republican radio personality on 1280 The Patriot, and Carrie Lucking, executive director of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, about these questions.
Watch the video for more information.