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Republicans Mary Otto and Christine Luhnow discuss the fate of Todd Akin's campaign

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Mary Otto is a housewife and mother who lives in Clayton. She has always had an interest in news and current events. But after passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, she began hosting discussion groups, and organizing and motivating others to fight against what she saw as the government’s intrusion into the private lives of ordinary citizens. A lifelong Republican, Mary leans toward the conservative end of the spectrum. 

Christine Luhnow is a mother and former television journalist. Recently she created an online blog to add a moderate Republican female voice to public debate — ModerateMoms.com. She says she is as far to the left as you can be while still being on the right. Her goal is to get public servants working together again and to get moms to buy in to what’s going on.

The women are friends who started a discussion about Todd Akin and were both surprised with the path it took as the story unfolded. Events surrounding Akin’s remarks about rape and abortion changed and so did their responses to them. 

Christine (12:50 p.m. Aug. 27): So, I was wondering what you think about the Todd Akin situation and whether you think he should bow out of the race? Of course, his initial comments about a woman’s ability to prevent an actual pregnancy in the case of a “legitimate rape” were incendiary and got immediate attention. And women like me were legitimately offended at the idea that a woman could control her body’s response to an assault.

But now the story has evolved to a different place where the question isn’t about what he said but whether he should resign or whether he should be forgiven.

I went to his website yesterday and saw that he has published an apology and is asking voters to forgive him. To be exact, his website says, “I made a mistake. What I said was ill-conceived. It was wrong and for that I apologize.” He goes on to say, “The people from Missouri who elected me know I am not perfect. They don’t make perfect people. We all make mistakes.”

Mary: (1:06 p.m. Aug. 27) My initial reaction to the Todd Akin statement was that he should step out of the race. But, after hearing his apology and admission of making a mistake, I am viewing the situation differently.

Most of us can remember saying things and/or doing something which we deeply regret. Yet, many of us lack the courage to admit our mistakes and to ask those we have offended for forgiveness.  I believe that asking for forgiveness shows the highest form of good character and integrity.  And, quite honestly, I think we could use much more of this in politics.

I am ready to move beyond his ill-conceived statement and focus on getting him elected.

Christine (1:16 p.m. Aug. 27): I agree that we are all human and none of us is perfect. And the truth is we do all make mistakes.

I am asking myself was it bad science, bad timing or a reflection on how Todd Akin views women and whether he could adequately represent us? My sense of things is that it almost doesn’t matter this close to the election because we can’t afford to lose that seat to the Democrats. And that for the sake of the overall effort, he should step down.

Mary (2:33 p.m. Aug. 27):

I believe it is bad timing.  I think Todd Akin has great respect for women, as he has great respect for life.  I think Missouri voters voted for Akin because they believe that he is honest and that he holds their same family values.  They like the fact that he stands up for what he believes in.  I am sure that if Akin is forced out of the race, it will be viewed by many Missourians that their voices again have not been heard.

We need to stand behind Akin and send a message to the rest of the country that we are forgiving and will not be bullied.

Christine (3:43 p.m. Aug. 27):

It will be interesting to see if Akin’s supporters only strengthen their resolve on his behalf. This could galvanize them, I guess. Do you think it was bullying to ask him to stay away from the convention in Tampa? And what do you think about the fact that he was in Tampa meeting with some of his strongest Christian supporters even after that request? I wonder if it is an attempt by Akin to portray himself as being outside of the party system the way the Tea Party once did. Can you envision a scenario where a move like that actually boosts his support?

My biggest concern is there are a lot of Republican women who like Claire McCaskill and I worry this could put them on her side of the fence. And we have so many strong Republican women in our state like (former Missouri House Speaker) Catherine Hanaway, (GOP congressional candidate) Ann Wagner and (U.S. Rep.) Jo Ann Emerson.  I wonder if it isn’t time to send a message that could reverberate across the country that the Republican Party may tolerate differences of opinion on women’s issues but they won’t tolerate ignorance.

Mary (9:26 p.m. Aug. 27):

The Republican Party clearly wants to distance itself from Akin’s statement by asking him not to appear at the convention   It is interesting how the Republicans will throw their colleagues under the bus, where the Democrats embrace their colleagues and ignore their gaffes.  I am sure that since the RNC and other Republican groups have cut off all of Akin’s funding he has no choice but to appeal to his biggest supporters.  They are probably all united in Tampa for the convention so it makes sense to go there to see them.  As to whether or not they will rally for him, depends on how much pressure is put on them by the Republican Party, and if they will cave in to their demands.  It may however work in Akin’s favor since many are sick of the establishment.

I am surprised that there are any Republican voters in Missouri who like Claire McCaskill. Her vote for Obamacare and her continued support of the President and all of his policies should be reason enough for all Republicans to want her out.  I think jobs, the economy, repealing Obamacare, and national security should be at the top of the Republican agenda.  We are letting the Democrats distract voters from the larger issues facing our country by focusing the attention on women’s issues and an unfortunate misstatement.

Christine (9:50 p.m. Aug. 27):

Akin is lucky to have a strong, smart lady like you in his corner!

And I agree with you that, even though Claire McCaskill has picked up a few Republican friends over the years, this is not the year to vote for her. There is just too much at stake!

It’s hard for me to argue with a friend who is advocating forgiveness for an ordained minister. So, I guess we have to agree to disagree on whether he should step aside.

At the end of the day, it will be up to Todd Akin to listen to what his own heart and mind are telling him. My guess is he may still bow out.

Thanks for being willing to discuss this. I think it’s important for people to see there are a diversity of opinions among Republican women.

Mary (9:36 a.m. Aug. 28):

I guess like Todd Akin, I speak from the heart. In a perfect world there is forgiveness, but we are far from a perfect world.  I can see that many Republicans, conservatives included, would like to see Akin step aside, and for the good of “The Party,” he should bow out.  The Republican elites still hold the purse strings and power.  The future of our country is at stake in this election. Perhaps, this is not the year for heroes.

It is my hope, in the future, that we can return to a country of strong individuals with good moral values and get away from this collective mindset.

Thanks for listening to my position.  I appreciate your thoughtful responses.


Mary (5:57 p.m., Aug. 29):

I would be happy to start another dialog.  I am afraid Todd Akin is in too far over his head.  Without the support of the RNC, and all of the negative ads which will be out soon, it will take every Republican voter in Missouri to get him elected.  His comments have unfortunately lost women voters, and we cannot afford to lose their votes again.

Christine (8:05 p.m. Aug. 29):

Agreed. You know what one of my neighbors just suggested? That Akin step down in the race for U.S. Senate, that Ann Wagner bow out of her congressional race so that Akin can go back to the House and she can run for the Senate position. I do believe she would be a formidable opponent to McCaskill. And that way outstate Missourians, who get and support Akin, wouldn’t feel cheated out of their candidate. And the Wagner candidacy could make a statement with nationwide impact about the role of women in higher office. I like it. What do you think?

Mary (9:13 a.m. Aug. 30):

I am not sure I am ready to make that call.  I have heard they are considering a few people.  I hope that whatever happens, people realize the importance of this election, and will put aside personal grievances and look at the bigger picture.  We need to help “get this done.”

Christine (8:09 p.m. Aug. 31):

Hey, I just saw a poll listed on real clear politics that said McCaskill is only ahead of Akin by 1%. That’s amazing if it’s true given all the controversy around him right now.

I heard another name yesterday being floated as his replacement – Catherine Hanaway.

Mary (2:20 p.m. Aug. 31):

I just heard that 75 percent of Republicans have forgiven Akin.  I think most people realize that his comment was unfortunate and they still believe in his integrity.  He still may not appeal to the moderate Republican and independent women voters, but if it turns out that he does stay in, I hope those two groups will rethink the significance of keeping Claire in. The Republicans gave women center stage at their convention and they were all very impressive.  This is the land of opportunity for all.

Christine (2:07 p.m. Sept. 7):

I agree that it was a more diverse array of Republicans than we have seen in years past at this year’s Convention. I am amazed at those poll results and stunned that Akin has apparently rebounded that way. I am also still holding out hope that he will step aside and a female candidate will take his place. I am also concerned that social issues like abortion and civil unions continue to be so prominently featured on the Republican Party’s platform.

Mary (2:09 p.m. Sept. 7):

A final thought. In all fairness, Charles Jaco should interview Claire McCaskill and ask her why she has no regard for human life by voting FOR late term abortions and the killing of babies outside the womb? That interview will never happen because we have a bias in the media. It is their job to ask pointed questions to Republicans, to ruin their chances of being elected.