Piers Morgan Spins Todd Akin Controversy Into 'Romney's Worst Nightmare'
CNN's Piers Morgan played right into the hand of the Obama campaign's co-chair on Monday night, casting the fallout from Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) rape remarks as "Romney's worst nightmare."
"Yeah, I think you've hit the nail on the head," Morgan told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) after she delivered her liberal spin tying Akin to Paul Ryan and the GOP. "Now it [the debate] has become Romney's worst nightmare. It's gone right back to the social conservative issues he was so desperate to move off on." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Instead of challenging Schakowsky's liberal spin bewailing some Republicans' opposition to contraception and abortion in all cases, Morgan credited her analysis and agreed that the whole situation was an albatross to Romney and the GOP.
"Well, I mean I think they're damned if they do, damned if they don't now," Morgan said of Republicans with regards to Akin's senate race in Missouri.
Akin was talking about abortion in cases of rape in Sunday in an interview when he said that pregnancies in cases of rape were "really rare." He added that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” and that "let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
The Romney campaign distanced itself from Akin's comments and stated its support for abortion in cases of rape.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 20 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:01 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
PIERS MORGAN: What do you make of all this? So we had Mr. Akin. He was going to come in here and explain himself and point out why we had all failed to understand that it was quite straightforward -- jumbling of words. And then unfortunately he bailed on us. What do you think is going on here?
Rep. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-Ill.): Well, the Republicans are just in a dither over what Todd Akin said. And of course it would be interesting to hear from him exactly what the science was about what women have our ways of determining whether we keep a pregnancy that's from rape or not, which is really very amazing. And he's on the Science Committee. So maybe there's some mysterious fact that we're unaware of.
And of course the 32,000 women who get pregnant from rape I'm sure, would be very interested to know whether or not that rape was really a legitimate rape, a real rape. It's just incredible. But the thing that's interesting to me, Piers, is that I haven't really heard Republicans criticize, essentially their position, along with Akin's position, when it comes to women's reproductive rights and health.
Paul Ryan and Todd Akin, like two peas in a pod, have endorsed the same legislation that would limit women's rights to access to contraception. That would make even rape and incest not reasons for having an abortion. That would say that forcible – it has to be forcible rape – I guess a woman has to have black eyes and black and blue marks in order to actually claim that she was forcibly raped.
So the – I think what's really going on is that the positions, the real positions of the Republican Party, have now been unveiled. And everybody's really uncomfortable on the Republican side of the aisle with that.
MORGAN: Yeah, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I think the big problem here for Mitt Romney is that he brought in Paul Ryan, I think, as an economic battering ram against the President. And it was all going quite well. And the debate was moving to the economy and how they would fix it together. And the polls were showing a certain spirited spike as a result of it. Now it's become Romney's worst nightmare. It's gone right back to the social conservative issues he was so desperate to move off on.
And the reason he's so desperate to move off is that on abortion, for example, he has carried out one of the great flip-flops in political history. I mean this was a guy who was completely pro-choice and is now completely pro-life. Paul Ryan was against any form of abortion for anybody, including anyone who had been raped, and now he himself has had to move to this sort of new position alongside Mitt Romney's new position. And if you're looking at this from the outside, you're saying, well, what do these guys really believe?
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, and we'll find out some more tomorrow, because the Republican Platform Committee is going to have a vote on whether or not the Human Life Amendment, which would ban most -- almost all abortions, I believe only maybe the life of the mother would be an exception. Mitt Romney said he supports it. Paul Ryan supports it. Let's see if that becomes part of the Republican platform. And so that that brings in to very clear focus what the Republican Party really is about. But I just want to say one thing about the economy. For women, the issue of access to contraception and abortion is very much an economic issue. Being able to space families, to decide when or if to have children is very, very much an economic issue for women, and determines our economic future. And so for women, they're really not all that separate issue – an issue.
MORGAN: No, I totally understand that. I mean it'll be very interesting to see how this plays out, not least because neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan, at the moment has demanded that Akin stand down. Now they've got until 6 p.m. tomorrow -- this a clock that's ticking. And, you know, if they don't denounce him and don't call for him to go, and he stays, you could, A, see him lose any way because of the tidal wave of fury that's building around what he said.
And you know whatever he says about I was misunderstood or whatever, forget it. We all know you were trying to repeat some piece of junk science, which whatever it was was complete lunacy. And the idea that you are a congressman, who's in, what, his sixth term or -- you know, whatever it is, absolutely unbelievable. But regardless of that, if they do not demand that he go, where does that leave them on this? This will run the long run until the election.
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think either way, that they're in big trouble because it really has, as you said, focused the campaign on an issue that they don't really want to go to. They don't want to be talking about women's health. The President was absolutely right. It really underscores that politicians, who are mainly men, should really not be making decisions on behalf of women's health, and that's what's going on.
There's a huge gender gap already. For women under 50 the gender gap, that is, the women who choose Obama over Romney, is 31 percent. I mean, it is just huge. Women are getting the message. And unfortunately for them, getting rid of Todd Akin I don't think is going to get rid of their problem.
MORGAN: Well, I mean I think they're damned if they do, damned if they don't now because either they get rid of him and he pulls out and it's a huge embarrassment and they probably then lose that seat, or they keep him and he becomes this huge talisman of fury about, you know, right-wing conservative social values, and I just think it's a huge problem for them.