PLANTATION, Fla. — There are more than 1,200 miles between the home of Rep. Todd Akin (R) and this city just west of Fort Lauderdale, but at a Democratic meeting here Tuesday night, the Missouri Senate candidate’s presence loomed large.
Mitchell Ceasar, the chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party, fervently invoked the GOP lawmaker in his remarks before about 150 people at a meeting of the county’s Democratic Executive Committee.
“We can talk all night about the war on women. We saw it again [Monday] and that candidate has reaffirmed that he’s still in the race,” Ceasar said to a smattering of applause and troubled murmurs from the people sitting on folding chairs.
Standing behind a podium with an Obama campaign sign on it, Ceaser told the group that Akin “is symptomatic with his extremism” of what a lot of Republican candidates actually believe. “Obviously none have ever passed a high school biology class,” he said. The crowd chuckled in affirmation.
In Washington, D.C., and all around the country, Democrats have pounced on the white-hot furor over Akin’s inflammatory comments about rape and abortion to rally the base and reinforce the message that there’s a Republican “war on women.”
Today, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate nominee in Massachusetts, released a radio ad that never mentioned her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown (R), but included the damning soundbite from Akin.
“Have you heard this?” a female announcer asks in the spot. “A Republican running for U.S. Senate in Missouri actually said a woman who was raped won’t get pregnant.”
The ad then plays the clip of Akin on a local Missouri TV station, released Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.
“This can’t be happening in 2012, right?” the female narrator intones in the Warren radio ad. “But it’s not just one extreme candidate in Missouri; it’s part of a Republican pattern. Just imagine if Republicans win the White House, or gain control of the U.S. Senate.”
Brown, for his part, called on Akin to drop out of the Senate race Monday morning, well ahead of the rest of the GOP establishment. And he sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pushing for a bigger-tent approach to the pro-life platform for the party. Brown supports abortion rights.
Today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sent a follow up fundraising solicitation on behalf of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), Akin's opponent. "It clarifies yet again why it is so important we have women in Washington playing a key role in decisions that affect our health and our bodies. You can help that cause by sending Claire back to the Senate and preserving our Democratic majority," Gillibrand wrote in an email.
EMILY’s List, the well-funded group that supports pro-abortion rights Democratic women candidates, took to Twitter today to note the similar voting records of some Republicans in competitive races and Akin. “@RepSchilling has voted with @RepToddAkin 90% of the time,” the group tweeted, referring to Rep. Bobby Schilling, the Illinois Republican who faces an uphill re-election battle.
Back in Florida, Lois Frankel, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the newly-configured coastal 22nd district, noted in a speech to the Democratic crowd that at the same time Republicans were calling on Akin to resign, the GOP was finalizing an anti-abortion rights platform as the official party line. It would “completely outlaw access to abortion in this country — with no exceptions including incest, rape or the health of the mother,” she said. The crowd booed.
“Or legitimate rape!” a man in the crowd yelled out, referring to Akin’s comment. The crowd knew exactly what he was talking about and laughed grimly.