What is it with Republican Senate candidates (male, of course) and women’s right to choose? The current pin-up boy for GOP foot-in-mouth disease is Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who took it upon himself to say that if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, she still shouldn’t have access to an abortion because God wants that baby to be born.
“I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during a debate. Mourdock has unsuccessfully tried to walk back his statement, which is redolent of comments made by another GOP Senate candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri. Akin famously declared that women can’t become pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape” because their body protects them.
Mourdock is the perfect Tea Party Republican. He defeated incumbent Richard Lugar in the June GOP primary by painting Lugar as insufficiently conservative. Mourdock’s campaign included an ad that showed Lugar giggling and dancing with a cartoon Obama, with pink hearts and rainbows floating around them. (We’re sure any homophobia was purely intentional.) As you might imagine, Mourdock is a mighty opponent of marriage equality, domestic partnerships, workplace protections and anything else remotely lavender.
Mourdock’s comments are a godsend (if you’ll pardon the expression) to the Obama campaign. It’s another chance to remind women that the GOP leaders might not only oppose the right to choose but possibly are eyeing the repeal of the 19th amendment of the Constitution. Given the existing gender gap in this year’s voting, this is a demographic nightmare for the Republicans. It’s bad enough to have lost the Latino vote for the foreseeable future. If they lose the women’s vote as well, Republicans will only ever see the White House from the outside for a long, long time.
The immediate impact of Mourdock’s gaffe (defined as the inadvertent expression of a true belief) is that he increased the chance of his losing the Senate race, which would be quite a feat in GOP-friendly Indiana. The bigger impact is that it gives Obama an opening to tie Romney–who just released an ad endorsing Mourdock, the only Senate candidate he has endorsed–to the far-right wing of the GOP. Obama’s lost no time in doing so.
Republicans are on the defensive, but what should they expect? They keep minting crazies for candidates because that’s what the base wants. How long will it take for them to realize that ultimately it’s a losing strategy?
Photo by Indiana State Treasurer Office via Wikimedia Commons