National Republicans worried anxiously this year that a handful of fringe candidates could repeat the dreadful mistakes of Todd Akin, whose “legitimate rape” comments helped tank the GOP’s Senate chances in 2012.
But it turns out that the Todd Akin of 2014 is Todd Akin.
Akin’s reemergence on the national stage this week — to promote his new book, Firing Back — was an unwelcome surprise for national Republicans, who still credit the former Missouri candidate’s comments with losing not just his race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill but tight Senate contests across the 2012 map.
So far, though, his 2014 doppelganger hasn’t materialized — and almost all the Republicans whom party leaders saw as problematic are out of the picture now.
Paul Broun, for example, the firebrand conservative congressman who ran for the Senate in Georgia and once called the big-bang theory and evolution “lies from the pit of hell,” came in fifth in the state’s May 20 primary. Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston, who made it to the July 22 runoff, were the two candidates in that race seen as least likely to deliver a similar gaffe.
The same was true in Senate races in North Carolina and Mississippi: Physician Greg Brannon and pastor Mark Harris both lost the North Carolina GOP primary to state House Speaker Thom Tillis, delivering the nomination to the candidate national Republicans preferred. McDaniel, whose radio-host past unearthed some offensive comments about women and minorities, is — pending his legal challenge — out of the running in Mississippi.
And in Alaska, 2010 Senate candidate Joe Miller is back for a second try in the Aug. 19 primary, but so far he has gotten little traction against former state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and other candidates.
Akin, in his new book, says his only regret of the 2012 campaign was apologizing for the comments that so many found offensive.
“By asking the public at large for forgiveness, I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said,” he writes, according to an early copy of the book obtained by Politico.
Some Democrats quickly jumped on the Akin news Thursday, tying him to 2014 candidates. While it shows that Democrats still feel Akin resonates, it’s also a sign that no one has taken his place as the GOP bogeyman.
“Todd Akin Is Back “¦ But He Never Really Left,” said the headline on a press release from Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign, which alleged Thursday that the Coloradan’s GOP challenger, Cory Gardner, “carried on crusade” for Akin.
“Akin’s remarks were widely condemned by Republicans trying to avoid bad PR, but radicals like Congressman Cory Gardner still agree with Akin’s offensive and backward policy views,” the release said.
Planned Parenthood, too, put out a release saying three candidates — Gardner, North Carolina’s Tillis, and Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott — “show similar disregard for survivors of rape and incest.”
But these references to Akin underscore the fact that, thus far, there’s no obvious 2014 scapegoat to fuel Democrats’ “GOP war on women” narrative, and no 2014 comment that has come even close to Akin’s “legitimate rape.” In a year where Democrats must defend so much territory on the Senate map, that’s surely not what they wanted.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”