In 2006, the Republican senate candidate in Virginia, George Allen – the former Governor of Virginia and son of the revered NFL coach of the same name – was locked in a tight race with former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb, the Democratic nominee. Then Allen went ahead and threw a racial slur at a volunteer working for Webb’s campaign – and Allen ended up losing the election by less than 0.5%.
There is no place to hide in politics, not anymore. One slip of the tongue, one brain fart, one misstep, and you’re the next viral sensation – and not the good, funny “cats singing the Game of Thrones theme” kind. Todd Akin, the man running for a Democratic-held senate seat in Missouri, looked to be the favorite in his race over incumbent Claire McCaskill – ironically, part of the same 2006 Democratic wave that included Jim Webb. Akin had a lead in the polls all the way up until last weekend, when he unleashed a colossally stupid string of words on a local St. Louis interview program, basically saying that victims of “legitimate rape” can rarely get pregnant.
Akin’s ill-timed words were not only staggeringly stupid for his campaign – Akin now trails McCaskill by around ten points in Missouri – they also worked to stunt whatever momentum the Republicans had from the successful roll out of their vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan only a week before. Thanks to Akin, the party’s views on abortion and women’s rights are now front-and-center for their convention () with echoes of the Missouri candidate’s words echoing throughout the Republicans’ platform language. It opens up the Republicans to viable attacks on their women’s-rights stance, one that Obama and the Democrats will surely exploit at their own upcoming convention.
On top of all that, the bullheaded Akin is apparently not going to go away – staying in the Missouri race despite calls from both parties to resign. It may be that Akin could make the GOP convention stormier than the hurricane that was bearing down on Florida.