Joe Walsh to GOP: Stick up for Akin despite ‘idiotic’ remarks
BY LINDA GIRARDI For The Courier-News August 22, 2012 3:54PM
Congressman Joe Walsh shares his thoughts on recent controversial comments made by Todd Akin, a Congressman from Missouri who is running for U.S. Senate, during a panel discussion at the Multi-County Young Republicans Conference at Whitetail Ridge Golf Club in Yorkville on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 22, 2012 6:51PM
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh says fellow Republican Todd Akin’s recent comments about rape were idiotic — but questioned during a public forum why no one in the Republican Party has stuck up for him.
With about 10 weeks until Nov. 6, Republican congressmen from the Fox Valley and DuPage County gathered in Yorkville this week to weigh in on issues that may affect the outcome on Election Day.
Walsh, R-McHenry, said Akin’s comment was offensive, insulting, disappointing and idiotic — but “there is always a rush of judgment” to have someone resign from office. “That is up to him and his family,” Walsh said.
Walsh said, “conservatives are often cowed by the media, and there clearly is a double standard when folks on our side make an outrageous statement.”
“I am bothered by this rush and silence from members in our own party to stand up for him,” Walsh added.
The campaign of Walsh’s opponent, Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, responded by saying: “Todd Akin’s comments were wrong and offensive. Congressman Walsh’s co-sponsorship of a bill that waters down the legal definition of rape is irresponsible and reckless.”
The bill referred to would limit federal funding for abortions.
Walsh made his comments during a panel discussion with area congressmen that also included Peter Roskam of Wheaton, who represents the 6th District; and Randy Hultgren of Winfield Township, 14th District.
Moderator Dan Proft, a WLS-AM Radio talk show host, said he “ripped from the headlines” the controversy inside the Republican Party over Missouri’s Akin, who made “incredibly foolish statements about abortion, has been paying for it and has apologized for it.”
“Todd Akin’s statement was wrong, and I continue to repudiate it, but this election is bigger than him,” Roskam, chief deputy whip in the House, said to applause.
“This is an election about a generation change; and if we squander this one opportunity — we will look back” with regret.
A poll taken this week by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling reported Akin narrowly leading Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill 44 percent to 43 percent — basically identical to a poll in late May before the controversy erupted.
The Kendall County Young Republicans hosted the second-annual Multi-County Young Republican Conference at the Whitetail Ridge Golf Club. Young Republican groups from Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, DuPage, Will, McHenry, Lake and Grundy counties all took part.
Roskam said the 2012 presidential election is unlike any election the country has seen “arguably” in a generation.
“The stakes are as high as they have been in a generation. I have an interest in making sure we win every U.S. Senate seat with the best candidate possible,” Roskam said.
Hultgren said, “I do hope (Akin) does look beyond himself and the impact on the nation. We are at a tipping point. We need the Senate, and we need the White House.”
On another recent GOP campaign development, the three congressmen said Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate communicates that Romney wants to “change” and not “manage” government.
“You have a candidate who has incredible cross-over appeal to independent voters,” Roskam said of Ryan.
Hultgren said Ryan brings knowledge of the budget that he can translate in terms people can understand. “It was a great move,” Hultgren said of the vice presidential pick.
About 100 party loyalists, with a few 20-somethings among them, attended the event.
“There just hasn’t been a forum for young Republicans to attend,” said Scott Gryder, Kendall Young Republican chairman.
Gryder said people have heard the usual talking points of limited taxes and less government, but they want voters to more definitively articulate what the GOP stands for.
Gryder said people in their 20s don’t remember the years when the Republican Party reigned in Illinois. He believes the Republican name was “sullied” when former Gov. George Ryan was sentenced on federal corruption charges.
“From then on I never received invitations to Republican events,” Gryder said.
Gryder said the “young” Republican is defined as a voter in the 18-to-40 age group.
“When I was a kid, Ronald Reagan was president and we had a Republican in the governor’s mansion — but young 20-somethings don’t remember that,” he said.
“In 2008, Obama did a great job of mobilizing young people. … We want to get back on message.”