By Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes - 08/20/12 05:50 PM EDT
President Obama on Monday called Rep. Todd Akin’s remarks about rape “offensive” and sought to tie the Republican Senate candidate to the GOP presidential ticket.
“Rape is rape,” Obama said at a White House press briefing. He called Akin's comments “way out there.”
“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of which are men, making decisions that affect health of women,” Obama said.
Democrats have pounced on Akin’s comments, which could make Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) a favorite in the Missouri Senate race overnight.
Akin said in an interview with a local Fox affiliate released on Sunday that, in cases of “legitimate rape,” pregnancy is rare because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
His apology has not calmed the storm. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was among Republicans on Monday who called for him to leave the Senate race.
The Obama campaign sought to tie Akin to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who both have rebuked Aikin and sought to distance themselves from the remarks.
The Obama campaign said Ryan supported a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion in all instances, including in the case of rape. It also said Ryan, who opposes abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, had worked with Akin on tough anti-abortion rights legislation.
“The underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their healthcare decisions ... that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party,” Obama said.
He was careful not to say Romney and Ryan might be aligned with Akin’s controversial comment.
“I don’t think they would agree with the representative from Missouri, which was way out there,” he said. “[Akin] was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri, so I’ll let them deal with that.”
Romney distanced himself from Akin in a statement issued on Sunday through his campaign and in an interview on Monday with National Review Online, in which he called the comment "insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong."