Say what you will about Todd Akin, but the man is not a quitter.
Infamous for wrecking his Senate campaign in 2012 -- when his brain failed to shut down that whole thing his mouth was saying about rape -- Missouri's prodigal son came out swinging this month with a national book tour to promote Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith.
The tour showed Akin in vintage form: He blamed the media and Republican leadership for his campaign loss, compared himself to Joseph McCarthy and reneged on his apologies for the "legitimate rape" comments that got him in trouble in the first place. Also, he believes that abortion "easily trumps slavery as the greatest moral evil in American history." Yup, that sounds like the Akin we know.
But can Akin still surprise us? Does he have more magic left in the tank? In the spirit of scientific inquiry, we listened to his roughly two-hour interview with KMOX's Reardon on Tuesday, which we assumed would present the friendliest arena for Akin to open up his feelings and let loose.
After a thorough analysis, it's pretty clear he's still got what it take to compete in the foot-in-mouth big leagues. Here are six insights we gained into the mind of the Firing Back-author:
(In case anyone has spent the last two years under a rock, here's the original 2012 interview that started the "legitimate rape" craze.)
1. Todd Akin Keeps Using Words
To his credit, Reardon repeatedly held Akin to task for the "legitimate rape" comments, which makes sense because the resulting backlash impacted the rest of the Republican party. This line of questioning seemed to force Akin into all sorts of uncomfortable linguistic contortions.
For instance, when Reardon asks if Akin can understand why people got so angry, Akin responds that yes, his "shutting the whole thing down" line was "very unprofessional." Yet, seconds later, Akin tries to write off the entire gaffe as a "complicated parenthesis" to his larger point about abortions, and that he was the victim of the liberal, abortion-loving media.
2. Todd Akin Doesn't Stop To Think About His Anecdotes
Akin wasted little time in dropping one his favorite new soundbites on KMOX listeners:
"The main thing [my critics] said is, 'Akin thinks that nobody can get pregnant through rape.' But we had people working on our campaign that were the children of rape!"
Reardon, however, detects a slight logical flaw: If Akin had been aware that rape could produce children, why then did he tell FOX 2's Charlie Jaco that a woman's body could "shut that whole thing down"? But Akin is too slippery for logic:
"Well no, because after I made that comment I said, 'Well, what if that doesn't happen?'"
Indeed, Akin did hedge his infamous declaration during the 2012 interview.
"What I believe happens," continues Akin, responding to Reardon's point, "is that stress plays a part, but people can still get pregnant from rape, and those were the ones working on the campaign with me."
3. Todd Akin Believes Abortion Is Stopping America from Being a Cool Country
When asked if focusing on faith-based issues distracts Republicans from confronting tangible challenges, like the economy, Akin doesn't flinch: He whips out his history knowledge to prove why George Washington, if he were around today, would value faith and family above solving unemployment.
I spent two or three years reading the source documents of our Founders..their understanding was that in order to have a really cool country like ours, that has a lot of freedom, high standard of living, a large level of respect of one citizen to another... in order to create something like that, it really sits at the most fundamental level on the individual citizen...and that's where I bring the faith in because they brought it in. They believed your mindset, how you approach life, is so important to the quality of life.
More pearls of wisdom from Todd Akin await, on the next page
4. Todd Akin Believes Liberals Were the People Looting During 9/11
Following up his argument that fostering Christian morality in America is key to solving, well, all of our problems, Akin takes a detour into September 11. He praises a man who risked his own life to save others during the attacks, and then contrasts that hero with the people who were raised on the ethos of "getting something for nothing."
...He saved the lives of people in the Capitol building. At the same time, you have people who have lived their lives trying to get something for nothing, and they're the ones looting at the bottom of the tower. We don't respect them. They don't think in a way that's constructive for our society.
5. Todd Akin Doesn't Realize That Retracting His Apology Means He Kind of Lied to Us
Akin spent lots of airtime spinning a narrative that he was pressured by the Republican establishment to apologize for his "legitimate rape" snafu, including the release of a video titled "Forgiveness." But it turns out Akin never really meant it.
"We crafted an apology, not based on what I said but on what people were perceiving," he says, admitting that he allowed an election campaign trump his personal convictions.
But it's not just Missouri voters who Akin pandered/lied to. During a mega-hyped "exclusive interview" with KSDK (Channel 5) in 2013, Akin was asked if he still believed in his "legitimate rape" comments.
"No, no and I apologized for that," he responded to reporter Leisa Zigman at the time. We'll just assume he was crossing his fingers when he said that.
5. Todd Akin Still Wants to Help America
Let's get to the burning question: Is Todd Akin considering another run at public office?
"I never say never, but on the other hand I've had 24 years serving the people of the state of Missouri. I'm always looking to the next adventure life has. I've never done a book. I've done it with some completely honest motives of saying, 'Hey, there's some things that didn't go right.'"
But Akin says he may have already found his next adventure: To fight against the liberal-backed idea of a "war on women."
"Who else in the Republican party is going to deal with this ridiculous war on women thing, which the Democrats own and try to blame on Republicans.... I can talk about abortion policy, the current administration and how that every one of those things is anti-women. I feel like maybe I'm in a position to take a message that other people aren't."
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