Todd Akin, known colloquially as "Mr. Legitimate Rape," broke his silence on Friday after an embarrassing gaffe during the U.S. Senate race derailed his campaign and stained his career. After again apologizing for the infamous quote stating that "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," referring to pregnancy from "legitimate rape," he said he would make a return to politics. But can he truly bounce back from a phrase still repeated 6 months after he lost the election?
Despite his positive outlook, he may have more than just the 54.8% of Missouri voters who chose incumbent Claire McCaskill over him in November 2012 — and outraged citizens across the country — to convince that he is a serious candidate. Akin lost the support of several prominent figures in the GOP after his "legitimate rape" remarks in August 2012, including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," said Romney. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."
Despite the sudden backlash and sharp drop in the polls following the damaging interview, Akin stayed in the race. His spirit and continued effort could make him a stable candidate in the future, but some still believe he is not fit for the position.
"Some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock — they're wrong," said Republican strategist Karl Rove. "We need to do better if we hope to take over the United States Senate. We need to get better conservative candidates and win."
Rove recently started a new super PAC that would help boost candidates like Akin who lose early leads against vulnerable Democrats, something that Akin vows will not dissuade him from running again. He is enjoying his time away from politics, but isn't ruling anything out for the future.
"I have the whole rest of my life to live and the whole world is in front of me," he said. "All of us are fallible. We make mistakes, say things the wrong way. I've relived that moment many, many times."
While Akin's intentions may be good, anyone whose entire reputation takes such a grand nosedive after a single comment can't expect to regroup soon. As long as people are still referring to him in talks about rape and reproductive rights, he cannot be taken seriously.
As McCaskill showed, even a Democratic underdog in a red-leaning state like Missouri can capitalize on such asinine remarks from her Republican counterpart and go on to take the election by a landslide. In spite of his tenacity, Akin is not, and never will be, a "legitimate" candidate.