By Jordy Yager - 08/28/12 08:36 PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. — Former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said politicians should stop calling for Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) to nix his Senate campaign because of highly controversial comments he recently made.
“I think that’s up to the people of Missouri,” the Georgia Republican told The Hill in a brief interview.
“Let’s give it two or three weeks to settle down, and if the people of Missouri say he’s their candidate, I don’t think outsiders have a right to dictate to the people of Missouri,” he said.
Akin has been at the center of an onslaught of criticism from Republicans and Democrats since he made his controversial comments about rape less than two weeks ago, with many high-level GOP politicians calling for him to halt his bid for the upper chamber seat.
Both Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, and his vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), have asked Akin to step aside, and Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus recently indicated that the organization wasn’t going to give Akin any more money.
Akin has since apologized for saying that women often don’t get pregnant after being raped because, if it's a “legitimate rape,” her body can terminate the unborn child. The lawmaker has vowed to stay in the race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Akin has until Sept. 25 to take his name off the ballot, and Gingrich said he should take the next several weeks to talk to voters in Missouri and conduct polls to see if his comments will affect their decision in November.
“Akin’s got until the end of September to go and ask the people of Missouri whether or not they’re willing to support him,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich made his comments in Tampa, Fla., after a screening of the documentary film, “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny,” that the former lawmaker helped make with the movie’s bankrollers, Citizens United.
Citizens United is the conservative group most famous for its role in the 2010 Supreme Court decision that said corporations are entitled to the same free-speech rights as individual people.
The court decision has enabled private groups to, without limits, fund advertisements for political candidates, and has been highly criticized by Democrats.