The Agony Of The Akin (The Note)

Aug 21, 2012 8:49am
ap akin ac 120821 wblog The Agony Of The Akin (The Note)

AP Photo/St. Louis Pos-Dispatch, Christian Gooden

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

NOTABLES:

  • PAIN IN THE AKIN: Publicly, he insists he’s not going anywhere and this morning, embattled Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin is out with a new ad asking his supporters for “forgiveness” after his controversial comments about rape and pregnancy.  Politico’s Alexander Burns reports that Akin has cut a 30-second, straight-to-camera spot asking for forgiveness. In it, Akin says: “Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault, and I pray for them. The fact is rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.” politi.co/NXopiW
  • AKIN’S WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE: Akin said in two radio interviews yesterday that he would not withdraw from Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, but ABC’s Russell Goldman and Elizabeth Hartfield report that Akin’s deadline to withdraw will be 5 p.m. CT today, under state law. If Akin does withdraw, the Missouri GOP will convene a nominating committee to replace him.
  • WILL HE OR WON’T HE? BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith reports: “Missouri Republican Todd Akin has begun moving toward ending his candidacy after his remarks on rape and abortion provoked a firestorm, a top Republican said. ‘Akin is taking concrete steps to withdraw by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.,’ a senior Republican told BuzzFeed, adding that Akin could still change his mind. But a Republican close to Akin said his position hasn’t changed: He’s still in the race.” bit.ly/PRIpHc
  • OBAMA TURNS TO EDUCATION ON OHIO, NEVADA SWING: ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports: In Columbus and Reno today, President Obama will stump on his education policies and contrast them with Romney-Ryan budget plans to cut student aid spending. Obama for America is out with a new digital calculator to showcase savings for students under Obama. The focus on education is  also on the airwaves in Nevada and Ohio: Obama launched a TV spot last week hitting Mitt Romney for his plans and the comment that students should “borrow money from their parents” to pay for college.

THE NOTE:

Last week the brand new GOP ticket spent all their time defending their record on Medicare.

Yesterday it was abortion as Mitt Romney was forced to wade into a controversy not of his own making.

In an interview with New Hampshire television station WMUR, Romey said that Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin “should understand that his words with regards to rape are not words that I can defend.”

Romney added, “He should spend 24 hours considering what will best help the country at this critical time.”

The one thing the duo of Romney and Ryan have yet to have any sustained discussion about thus far — the economy.

So will pushing Akin out end the conversation? Not likely.

As CNN reports: “The Republican Party is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for ‘a human life amendment’ to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform.” http://bit.ly/PachdW

This, of course, gives Democrats more ammunition for their argument that the GOP is out of touch on issues that matter to women voters — a message that the Obama campaign and their allies pushed yesterday.

“While Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are working overtime to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on rape, they are contradicting their own records,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.

And, as ABC’s David Muir and Devin Dwyer note, Democrats were also attempting to tie running mate Paul Ryan with Akin even more directly.

“Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women’s ability to make their own health care decisions,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote in an e-mail blast to supporters.

Nevertheless, senior Romney campaign strategist Stuart Stevens told Muir that he was confident that Democratic efforts to tie Ryan to Akin through their previous work together would not stick.

 

NOTE IT!

ABC’s AMY WALTER on Akin’s new ad: You don’t release an ad like this if you are planning on dropping out of the race today. This suggests that Akin is hunkering down and not winding down.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Lessons learned … yet messages maybe not delivered. The extraordinary Republican push to get Rep. Todd Akin off the Senate ballot in Missouri suggests that 2010′s primary misfires created long memories — that the vast majority of Republican Party and tea party leaders agree that a principles loss is still a loss. But as Democrats feast on ties between Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan, Republicans may be stuck with the judgment of their primary voters. The flipside of all the anti-establishment fervor is that when the establishment does speak, even in concert with the anti-establishment, the right folks may not be listening.

 

TAPPER’S Q’S FOR OBAMA: GREEN ON BLUE ATTACKS, U.S. JOBS. President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House Briefing Room on Monday, taking questions from reporters. ABC’s Jake Tapper: “I’m wondering if you could comment on the recent state of green-on-blue incidents on Afghanistan: what is being done about it, why your commanders tell you they think that there has been an uptick in this kind of violence.” Obama: “We are already doing a range of things, and we’re seeing some success when it comes to better counterintelligence, making sure that the vetting process for Afghan troops is stronger. And you know, we’ve got what’s called the Guardian Angel program to make sure that our troops aren’t in isolated situations that might make them more vulnerable. … In the long term, we will see fewer U.S. casualties and coalition casualties by sticking to our transition plan and making sure that we’ve got the most effective Afghan security force possible. But we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t leave our guys vulnerable.” See the full readout, including Obama’s answeron the economy, here: abcn.ws/SMV1fH

ABC VIDEO: AKIN CONTROVERSY TROUBLES ROMNEY, RYAN. ABC’s David Muir reports for “World News” on the political consequences of Rep. Todd Akin’s remark that pregnancy is uncommon in cases of “legitimate rape”: “The reason this ricocheted all the way to the White House is because that congressman has often seen eye to eye with Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, on abortion. Ryan and that congressman from Missouri both signing on as cosponsors on at least two separate bills on abortion–one bill that would offer an exception to abortion in cases of forcible rape.” WATCH: abcn.ws/OundEu

ABC VIDEO: GOP SKINNY-DIPPING FALLOUT. ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports in a “World News” segment that Republican leaders have rebuked House GOP lawmakers for their drunken boat party in the Sea of Galilee. Karl reports: “The trip was paid for by private funds, not taxpayer dollars, but when Majority Leader [Eric] Cantor got wind of the incident the next morning, a spokesman says he was livig–and the skinny-dipping congressman [Rep. Kevin Yoder] and the other swimmers got a stern lecture. Law enforcement sources say the raucuous behavior even caught the attention of the FBI …” WATCH: abcn.ws/OLqLPY

RYAN, ROMNEY CONDEMN SKINNY DIPPER. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports on the campaign’s reaction to Rep. Kevin Yoder’s skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee: “I think it’s reprehensible,” Romney said in an interview with ABC News’ New  Hampshire affiliate WMUR.  ”I think it’s another terrible mistake by individuals.” Rep. Paul Ryan agreed with his running mate, saying what Yoder did was “unbecoming of a member of Congress.” “It’s behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated. I think they know that,” Ryan said of the news, first reported by Politico and confirmed by ABC News. abcn.ws/TRCPnr

 

FRESH FROM BOSTON AND CHICAGO:

–NEW ROMNEY WEB VIDEO: ‘ONLY IN AMERICA.’ The Romney campaign channels Don King in a new welfare-related Web video that focuses on the success story of Danny Vargas of Herndon, Va., whose mother relied on welfare after moving from Puerto Rico to New York. “President Obama is stripping the work requirement out of welfare. I think the problem with that is there’s been so many success stories since the welfare reform of the 90s,” Vargas says. mi.tt/O0ZbCc

–OBAMA CAMPAIGN DIGITAL CALCULATOR: STUDENT LOANS. Seeking to turn the national debate toward education–and specifically student loans–President Obama’s campaign has released a digital student-loan calculator in conjunction with his swing through Ohio and Nevada. Based on income, the site tells visitors if they qualify for an Obama-backed “Pay As You Earn” loan program, which “caps monthly federal student loan repayment at 10% of monthly discretionary income, meaning that a responsible student can choose the college they want to attend based on their career goals and not only the price of tuition. Families can know that as long as students make their payments on time, they won’t owe more than they can reasonably afford each month.” bit.ly/OupxuZ

 

THE BUZZ:

with ABC’s Chris Good (@c_good)

ABC VIDEO: OLDER RYAN SUPPORTERS WEIGH IN ON MEDICARE. Paul Ryan took his Medicare pitch to the world’s largest retirement community–The Villages, Fla.–over the weekend, defending his reform plan while campaigning with his mother. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe spoke with seniors at the event, who told her Medicare needs changes if the program is to survive. WATCH here: abcn.ws/OUmSha

MILITANTS HIT GENERAL’S PARKED PLANE IN AFGHANISTAN. ABC’s Anthony Castellano reports: The plane of the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, was damaged after Taliban militants fired rockets at Bagram Air Field. A military official told ABC News the attack occurred just after midnight local time at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul when Dempsey’s C-17 plane was hit by fragments of indirect fire from two rockets. Dempsey was safely back in his room when the attack occurred and was not hurt in the blast. Two maintenance people working nearby sustained minor injuries. abcn.ws/NCUxvV

OBAMA TAPS CASH RESERVES, ADDS DEBT IN JULY. ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports: For the third consecutive month, the Obama campaign spent more than it raised, assumed new debt and substantially depleted its cash-on-hand reserves, according to the organization’s Federal Election Commission filing for July. Obama for America collected $49.1 million between July 1 and 31 … a rapid summertime expansion of grassroots organizing operations in swing states and an aggressive advertising blitz against rival Mitt Romney has begun to drain resources. Obama for America spent $58.8 million over the same period, according to the filing.abcn.ws/OumxPj

TODD AKIN A NO-SHOW ON PIERS MORGAN. CNN’s Piers Morgan had tweeted on Monday that Todd Akin would appear for an interview on his show last night. Not so. Morgan opened his show by saying, “Good evening. You’re looking live at the empty chair that Todd Akin was supposed to be sitting in for a live primetime exclusive interview,” the screen split between Morgan and the empty chair. Morgan said Akin’s communications adviser agreed to book the interview and then pulled out “at the last possible moment … leaving us and you looking at an empty chair.” Morgan extended an invitation to Akin to appear on the show or be “what we would call in England a gutless little twerp.”

PRESSURE FROM ABOVE. Todd Akin has been criticized by Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, and one Missouri strategist tells ABC News that AKin has been getting phone calls from “everyone,” asking him to reconsider his Senate bid in the hopes of salvaging a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans against vulnerable incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

PAUL RYAN BORROWS MITT ROMNEY’S FOREIGN POLICY TALKING POINTS. ABC’s Emily Friedman and Shushannah Walshe report: Taking the stage together for the first time in more than a week, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan held a town hall here today and fielded several questions about foreign policy, an area critics say is a weak spot for the vice presidential candidate. Flexing those foreign policy talking points, Ryan repeated many of the lines Romney has honed during in his more-than-a-year on the campaign trail. … “The president, in my opinion, has made decisions that are more political in nature than military in nature,” said Ryan, echoing one of Romney’s common talking points. abcn.ws/Ptxe6B

REGISTRATION DRIVE. The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King, Jr. and Danny Yadron report: “The lead that President Barack Obama and his party have in voter registration in swing states has declined since 2008 but Democrats retain the edge in more of those states than Republicans, amid the final push to fire up voters before Election Day. The gaps between the two parties in some states have shrunk substantially since Mr. Obama came into office, due more to ebbing Democratic rolls than to greatly expanding Republican ones.” on.wsj.com/O0e1FQ

NEW ADS: MEDICARE AND GOP SENATE CANDIDATES. With Paul Ryan on the GOP presidential ticket, entitlement reforms figure to play heavily in Senate and House races across the country. Today, the Democratic super PAC Majority PAC and the group Patriot Majority PAC announced a $1.6 million round of ads in Indiana, North Dakota, and Montana attacking GOP candidates for backing Medicare and Social Security reforms. Another ad in Ohio accuses GOP candidate Josh Mandel of hiring his college friends while disregarding Ohio jobs. WATCH THE ADS … IN: bit.ly/Ptq6a9 , ND: bit.ly/MIO3KD , MT: bit.ly/QVIK6Y , OH: bit.ly/QllXRr

MICHELLE OBAMA WORKS OUT BEFORE DAWN. ABC’s Molly Hunter reports: Following last week’s chatter about this year’s uber fit candidates, the first lady says she usually beats her husband to the gym in the morning–and she’s done with her work out by the time Paul Ryan gets going on his. In today’s post on iVillage, the women’s website where Michelle Obama is serving as editor for the week, she details her workout routine and how she keeps her family moving. Mrs. Obama tells iVillage that her day starts at 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m., allowing her to fit in a work out and watch ESPN’s SportsCenter with the president before their kids wake up. If she’s on the road, Mrs. Obama says she often brings a jump rope or does jumping jacks. bit.ly/PRxaPh

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@bethreinhard: Smart take by @Alex_Roarty RT @nationaljournal: Could Akin damage the top of the GOP ticket? http://njour.nl/NCWit1 

@lisatozzi: The 2012 Money Race: Great interactive graphic comparing the candidates http://nyti.ms/piKRKy 

@ZekeJMiller: That tropical depression likely to become a hurricane by Friday. Will be over Cuba on Sunday. Could turn North.

@donnabrazile: Yep, you can replace Rep Akin, but his views remain the policy of the GOP. Agree? Read more New Frontiers of Extremism http://nyti.ms/SKUzOX 

@librarycongress: A future president scrapbooks: Lincoln selectively saved news clippings from debates with Douglas, Aug 21, 1858.http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/lincoln/rise/TheNewLincoln/FindingHisVoice/ExhibitObjects/LincolnDebateScrapbook.aspx …

 

POLITICAL RADAR

President Obama holds events in Ohio and Nevada today, including a speech at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev.

Mitt Romney travels this morning from New Orleans to Houston for a private fundraiser and then on to Midland Texas for another fundraiser.

Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

 

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