Ex-US Rep. Todd Akin, sunk by 'legitimate rape' remark, dies

Todd Akin, a former U.S. Rep. from Missouri, who made the comment that women have a way to avoid pregnancies in cases where "legitimate" rape occurred, was killed. He was a conservative Missouri Republican and was a cautionary tale for others. He was 74.

Ex-US Rep. Todd Akin, sunk by 'legitimate rape' remark, dies

Perry, Perry's son, said that Akin had been suffering from cancer for many years. He died at home in Wildwood, St. Louis, on Sunday night.

Perry Akin, a statement to The Associated Press stated that "as my father's passing approached, we had people of all walks of life share story after tale of the personal impact he had upon them."

"He was a faithful Christian, a great dad, and a friend of many. Many fond memories are kept by us, from his driving the tractor on our annual hayride to his riveting presentation of the freedom story at the 4th of July parties in the full uniform of a colonial minsterman to many more. His legacy is a man who served others and stood for the truth.

Akin represented an eastern Missouri Republican district that included St. Louis suburbs for 12 year. He gave up a safe seat in order to run for the U.S. Senate race in 2012. Akin emerged from a crowded GOP primaries to challenge the incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. However, he severely damaged Republicans' chances at recapturing a Senate majority in less than two weeks.

Akin, who is a strong opponent to abortion, was asked by a St. Louis television station if he supports allowing abortions for women who had been raped. According to doctors, such pregnancies are "really uncommon," he said.

He said, "If it's legitimate rape the female body can have ways to shut it down."

His remarks sparked a furious response. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, instantly rebuked Akin's comments and stated that his campaign would allow abortions to be performed in such cases.

His U.S. Senate bid was clouded by criticism of Akin's comments until the end. He became a symbol for how Republicans can lose races with candidates too far to their right. Akin's campaign said that he "misspoke" at first, but Akin later admitted that he was wrong.

The national GOP pressured Akin to quit and let the state party pick a replacement. Akin refused to withdraw and allowed the state party to choose a replacement. He lost the race by almost 16 percentage points and received 39% of votes. However, other Republican officials and officeholders in the U.S. sometimes echoed his comments -- indicating how conservative some members of the party were on the issue.

Akin published "Firing back" two years later. In it, he accuses GOP leaders of abandoning McCaskill and letting McCaskill become president, and labels news organizations as bullies. He also retracts his public apology for the "legitimate" rape remark in the book.

Akin did not run for another term, but he speculated briefly about a challenge to GOP U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in 2016 with comments that tea party Republicans needed "new blood."

Akin was born in New York City on July 5, 1947. He grew up in St. Louis. In 1970, he earned a bachelor's degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He also served in the U.S. Army as a soldier and worked for IBM. He was a corporate manager at Laclede Steel Co., St. Louis.

In 1988, he was elected to the Missouri House and served for ten years in the Legislature. In 2000, he won Missouri's 2nd Congressional District and was reelected five more times. He was also a member of the Missouri Right to Life anti-abortion organization.

Ann Wagner, a Republican U.S. Rep., has represented Missouri's 2nd district since 2012. She said that Akin was a man of great faith who was also a strong conservative. He was deeply committed to God, his Country and his Family.

Blaine Luetkemeyer (a Republican congressman from eastern Missouri) called Akin "a dedicated father, grandfather, husband and public servant who served the Show-Me-State over decades at the state and federal levels."

Akin was up against two formidable opponents in the 2012 U.S. Senate primaries: Sarah Steelman, former State Treasurer, and John Brunner, a businessman.

Many Democrats believed McCaskill's best chance of winning reelection was with Akin, the GOP nominee. Akin was portrayed as too conservative by her campaign, Brunner wasn't a reliable conservative, and Steelman was "more politics than usual".

McCaskill used the ads to try and help Akin win the GOP primaries. McCaskill's 2015 autobiography stated that she tried to help Akin's campaign through back channels. She also urged it to air a TV ad featuring endorsements from ex-Arkansas Gov. and conservative GOP presidential candidate. Mike Huckabee.

McCaskill's actions paid off. Akin won the eight-person GOP field with 36% of the vote.

Information regarding the funeral has not yet been released. Akin's survivors include his wife Lulli Boe Akin and Nancy Bigelow Akin. They also have four sons, two girls, and 18 grandchildren.

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