Republican Akin loses after rape comments

2012-11-07 08:37
Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan flanked by Representative Todd Akin. (File, AP)

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan flanked by Representative Todd Akin. (File, AP)

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Kansas City - Missouri Republican US Senate candidate Todd Akin, who sparked a furore in August with comments about "legitimate rape", was defeated by Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill on Tuesday.

Until the rape comment, Akin was considered the favourite to beat McCaskill in a state that has trended Republican and voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

But the race reversed course after Akin's comment to a television station that women have natural defences against pregnancy from "legitimate rape". The comment drew scorn from state and national Republican leaders who called on him to drop out of the race.

Akin apologised for his remarks but refused to withdraw. He regained support of some top Republicans but lost significant financial backing.

"There is something close to a consensus that he did himself in," said John Petrocik, a political science professor at the University of Missouri. "She was one of the most vulnerable Democrats."

McCaskill had drawn heat for failing to pay taxes on a private family plane, which did not sit well with state residents, Petrocik said.

Blow to Republicans

People interviewed at St Louis-area polling stations on Tuesday said Akin's rape comments were important to their vote.

"Seeing Akin's attitude toward woman in general, voting for him would be impossible," said Mary Mitchell Bartley, a St Louis historic neighbourhood preservationist who had backed previous Republican candidates.

Akin's loss was another blow to Republicans, who had hoped to make a net gain of four US Senate seats to take the majority in the upper chamber.

Earlier on Wednesday the AFP reported, citing US media, that the Democrats retained their majority in the US Senate in Tuesday's election.

Based on initial results, CNN and Fox News projected the Democrats had picked up three seats and held on elsewhere. The Democrats were trying to defend 23 out of 33 seats that were up for election in the 100-seat upper chamber.


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