WASHINGTON -- Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin's remark that a woman who is a victim of a "legitimate rape" won't get pregnant created rare agreement Monday. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both said -- and I am paraphrasing -- he's nuts.
Republicans were scrambling to contain the political fallout of the Akin implosion -- pressuring him to pull out of the race.
Democrats welcomed the Akin blunder -- in a presidential battleground state and in a Senate race that could determine which party controls the chamber.
Here's what got this ball rolling: In an interview broadcast Sunday on KTVI television in St. Louis, Akin, discussing his anti-abortion views said, "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that [becoming pregnant from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Breathtaking, his idiocy. This isn't even about views on abortion, about which people can disagree -- with civility or vitriol, take your pick. Stunning. A member of Congress -- of course it's a man, no woman is this stupid -- actually thinks a woman is able to will her body from getting pregnant.
Now this story almost did not see the light of day. KTVI didn't jump on the scoop; the station hardly realized that the male show host had something worth reporting. What got the story out was a Democratic tracker for American Bridge, a pro-Obama SuperPAC.
Ty Matsdorf, a senior adviser for American Bridge, told me their Missouri tracker saw the interview live and flagged it for his bosses. They posted a clip on YouTube and sent it around to some reporters. The explosion was just a matter of time.
While Obama weighed in -- his comments below -- it was mainly Republicans who wanted to strangle Akin.
"He should understand that his words with regards to rape are not words that I can defend, that we can defend, or that we can defend him," Romney told WMUR while campaigning with Paul Ryan in New Hampshire.
Romney said Akin's comment's were "offensive" and hoisted him on a plank, telling WMUR Akin "should consider what's in the best interests of the things he believes most deeply, what will help the country at this critical time."
Decoded, that's Romney telling Akin to jump.
With the Republican National Convention kicking off in Florida next Monday, GOP chairman
Reince Priebus told CNN on Monday night that Akin should "step aside" -- and not show up in Tampa.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the Senate political operation, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Akin -- in a polite way -- to quit. Cornyn's words have additional weight because he now won't spend the millions of dollars budgeted to battled Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) if Akin stays on the ballot.
"Congressman Akin's statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service," Cornyn said in a statement.
Missouri has a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline for a candidate to withdraw from a race--which would let the party bosses pick a replacement.
The conservative National Review called for Akin to step aside, arguing that "some voters may nevertheless find a candidate's theoretical view so abhorrent that they cannot support him."
Obama made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room, and at his last-minute news conference, he said of Akin, "the views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people, and certainly doesn't make sense to me.
"So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health-care decisions on behalf of women," Obama said.
Romney is against abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother; Ryan's only exception is for the life of the mother. Obama supports abortion rights, and his signature health-care law lets a woman make decisions when it comes to contraception and other aspects of reproductive health.
The Obama campaign has been running ads in battleground states highlighting that Romney/Ryan want to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The Obama team has been portraying the GOP ticket as extreme when it comes to women's health issues. So far, Obama is polling well ahead of Romney with women.
And Akin -- whether he stays or goes -- only helps.