Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich broke with Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders Sunday by defending the right of Rep. Todd Akin to stay in the Missouri Senate race despite his controversial remarks on rape and pregnancy.
“I just think people ought to be a little cautious about saying the voters of Missouri don’t count,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Akin, who won the Missouri Republican primary last month to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, has rejected calls by Romney and other top Republicans to step aside after his remark on “legitimate rape.” In an interview on whether abortion should be legal in cases of rape, Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Republicans had made McCaskill a prime target in their effort to regain control of the Senate, but after a firestorm erupted over Akin’s remark, they all but gave up hope of capturing her seat. Akin’s remark came at a time when President Obama has been highlighting Romney’s stand on abortion in an effort to maintain his lead among female voters. Romney, a former supporter of abortion rights, now opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to a mother’s life.