Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), whose 2012 Senate campaign failed after a controversial comment regarding rape, died late Sunday at the age of 74.
Akin’s son Perry confirmed his father’s death to The Associated Press. The former representative had been living with cancer for several years, and died at his home in Wildwood, Mo.
“As my father’s death approached, we had people from all different walks of life share story after story of the personal impact he had on them,” Perry Akin told the AP in a statement.
“He was a devout Christian, a great father, and a friend to many. We cherish many fond memories from him driving the tractor at our annual hayride, to his riveting delivery of the freedom story at 4th of July parties dressed in the full uniform of a colonial minuteman. The family is thankful for his legacy: a man with a servant’s heart who stood for truth,” Perry Akin added.
Todd Akin had represented Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House for 12 years. He announced in May 2011 that he would step down from his post to wage a challenge against Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Miss.).
The congressman came under fire during that campaign when asked by a St. Louis television station if he supported access to abortion for women who are raped.
In response, he said that “from what I understand from doctors,” pregnancies caused by rape are “really rare.”
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin added.
The comment sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle, even leading the Republican nominee for president at the time, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP anger with Fauci rises No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE, to condemn it and announce his support for abortions in cases of rape, the AP noted.
Akin ultimately lost his bid for Senate after refusing to withdraw from the race, despite pleas from the state party to do so.
He took back the “legitimate rape” comment in the book “Firing Back,” which he published in 2014. In that book, the former congressman also called news organizations bullies, and said top Republicans turned their backs on him and allowed McCaskill to win reelection, the AP reported.
McCaskill in a tweet on Monday described Akin as a "nice man" who was "authentic to his beliefs."
"He actually believed in everything he said, which is a tribute to his character," she added.
I just learned that Todd Akin has died. He was a nice man,and although we had major disagreements about just about everything, he was authentic to his beliefs. He actually believed in everything he said, which is a tribute to his character. My thoughts are with his lovely family.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) October 4, 2021
In 2015, Akin left the door open on a return to politics, telling The Hill that he had “not ruled anything out” when discussing a potential primary challenge to Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud GOP fears boomerang as threat of government shutdown grows Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate MORE (R-Mo.) in 2016.
Akin was born in New York City on July 5, 1947, then grew up around St. Louis. Before serving as a U.S. congressman, he served in the Missouri House for 10 years after winning an election in 1988.
The former congressman also served in the U.S. Army and worked for IBM and Laclede Steel Co.
--Updated at 9:51 a.m.