Mitt Romney assails President Barack Obama campaign on Akin, abortion

By Brian Bakst

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 26 2012 1:46 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after church service on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama's campaign of trying to link him to Rep. Todd Akin's statements about rape and abortion, calling that a sad new low in the bitter election race while conceding that controversy over the remarks is hurting the Republican Party.

Romney's comments were broadcast Sunday as Republicans poured into Florida prepared to cram four days of nominating convention events into three because of the threat caused by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Railing about a Democratic campaign they cast as harshly negative — as the Democrats say about the GOP — Romney and Republicans sought to reach out to female voters and Hispanics — two voting blocs that polls show favor Obama. Top Republicans said it was crucial that the party broaden its appeal for the November election and for longer-term political viability.

Akin's remarks dogged the GOP as delegates and party officials gathered in this Florida city nervously eyeing overcast skies for the impending storm. Republicans scrambled to reconfigure their schedule, postponing the bulk of events that had been scheduled for Monday's opening.

Akin is the GOP Missouri Senate candidate who said women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy from a "legitimate" rape. Romney and other GOP leaders have criticized those statements and urged Akin to drop out of the Senate race.

Asked in an interview, recorded earlier, on "Fox News Sunday" about what the questioner said were Obama campaign efforts to link Akin's remarks to Romney and other Republicans, Romney said: "It really is sad, isn't it, with all the issues that America faces for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level."

Romney said the controversy over Akin "hurts our party and I think is damaging to women."

He said that as Massachusetts governor, he had helped women by guaranteeing coverage for them — and men as well — by enacting that state's health care legislation. Romney has pledged that as president he would repeal Obama's health care overhaul law — which is similar to the Massachusetts statute — but Romney said he was proud of his accomplishment at the state level.

Obama hasn't explicitly linked Romney to Akin, but he said in an interview with The Associated Press that the GOP candidate has locked himself into "extreme positions" on economic and social issues and would surely impose them if elected president.

In a Web ad, the Democratic National Committee spliced together images of Romney and Paul Ryan, Akin's interview in which he made the comments and various news reports, with the question, "Where does the GOP stand on the issue of women's health?"

The ad's final image is the Romney-Ryan campaign logo with Akin's name added.

The Democratic Party, in fundraising appeals, has sought to tie the Romney-Paul Ryan ticket to Akin.

"Now, Akin's choice of words isn't the real issue here. The real issue is a Republican Party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong," said a recent letter from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party.

Separately, Republican National Party Chairman Reince Priebus said Akin's insistence on staying in the Missouri Senate race could cost the party its chance to win control of the Senate.

Priebus said Akin "should put the mission of liberty and freedom ahead of himself" and leave the race.

Akin has ignored calls from national GOP leaders to leave the race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Republicans hope to pick off her seat and capture a Senate majority in the November elections. Priebus commented Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

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