Friday, August 24, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Distractions spoil a visit

Mitt Romney looked distracted as he shook hands with supporters after he landed in Little Rock on Wednesday afternoon. He was headed for a couple of fundraisers at the Peabody and Capital hotels, where supporters paid up to $25,000 to meet him.

You’d think raising $2 million in one evening would cheer up a presidential candidate, but not Romney, who has been off-message all week. Rep. Tim Griffin, Romney’s state chairman, also seemed distracted with all the side issues swirling around his candidate.

Romney’s campaign was supposed to focus on the economy and jobs, but extremists in his party wanted to talk about not letting women have abortions even in cases of “a legitimate rape” — especially after “a legitimate rape” because fools like Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri say there’s no way a woman can get pregnant when she’s assaulted. Maybe she can get pregnant when she’s underage or a victim of a date rape, in which case she definitely should not abort her child.

But “a legitimate rape” is when a woman’s reproductive system shuts down, according to Akin, who thinks too many women claim they’ve been raped just to get an abortion.

Akin, who is running for the Senate, told a television interviewer last Sunday, “From what I understand from doctors ... if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He has since apologized but has refused to drop out of the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democrat who had been trailing Akin but has now pulled ahead, making it almost impossible for the Republicans to take control of the Senate.

Romney and Paul Ryan, his running mate, and the entire Republican establishment have repudiated Akin’s remarks, although such ignorant views are pretty common. U.S. District Judge James Leon Holmes of Little Rock once said that “concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

Both Akin and Holmes have apologized for their stupidity, but the abortion distraction has hurt the Romney-Ryan ticket. A few years ago, Romney was pro-choice and must now run on a platform that outlaws all abortions. Although Ryan is for a total ban except when a woman’s life is in danger, Romney would still allow it in cases of rape and incest.

This is not the debate the Republican Party wants. For one thing, it alienates moderate women who don’t want to abolish all abortions. That is why, despite all the rhetoric, the party’s presidential candidates since Ronald Reagan have been careful not to offend moderate women. You can’t win an election without them.