Fox News contributors and hosts have called on Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) to drop out of his U.S. Senate race in light of the firestorm surrounding his claim that it is “really rare” for women subjected to “legitimate rape” to become pregnant. In blasting Akin's “moronic” and “really, really stupid” remarks, Fox News figures lamented that Akin's misstep could be “harmful” to Republican efforts to win the U.S. Senate and even the White House.
When criticism over Akin's remarks began intensifying this morning, Fox News largely ignored the controversy and attempted to dismiss its significance. Fox & Friends skipped the story, and America's Newsroom helped provide cover by treating it as a media analysis story ( “Will the media seize on Rep Akin's (R-MO) comments & GOP 2011 behavior in Israel?” ) and not airing the remarks.
As the controversy continued, however, and Republican candidates, organizations, and aligned groups started to distance themselves from Akin, several hosts and commentators with the conservative network began calling on Akin to withdraw from the race:
Sean Hannity: “It Could Be Harmful To The Whole Party”
While interviewing Akin on his Premiere Radio Networks program, Fox News host Sean Hannity repeatedly pushed Akin to drop out of the U.S. Senate race because it could hurt the Republican Party's chances to defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and President Barack Obama.
Hannity said that he was “very concerned, and I know many other conservatives are as well because they have all written me today, that if you stay in this race, and this becomes the defining issue of the race, and there is a timeline now in play here, that this could then put the entire state of Missouri, this Senate seat, and even the top of the ticket, in jeopardy in Missouri.”
While he added that Akin “misspoke” and is the victim of “a double standard,” Hannity fretted that “I think it could be harmful to the whole party, to the whole state, to the whole idea of capturing the Senate, to the whole idea of Mitt Romney doing well in a state he has to win.”
The Five: Perino Says Akin “Should Get Out” To Help Republicans
Co-host Dana Perino, a former Bush White House press secretary, said Akin “should get out. He should have gotten out within the first news cycle ... because what he said was wrong, but also he could have at least allowed at least some shot for the Republican, another Republican to come in.”
Co-host Andrea Tantaros, a former Republican staffer, said that Akin “needs to stop talking immediately,” later adding that it “plays right into the hand of Democrats that want to have a debate on social issues, and want to have a debate on this type of thing, so they're jumping up and down, and that's an important Senate seat.”
The other Five co-hosts, Juan Williams, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Greg Gutfeld, also criticized the remarks.
Karl Rove / Crossroads
The Los Angeles Times and Politico reported earlier today that American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are pulling advertising in Missouri against Sen. McCaskill. Crossroads spokesman Nate Hodson said of the news: “The act speaks for itself.”
Fox News contributor Karl Rove is a co-founder and adviser to both groups. He appeared on the Fox News program America's Newsroom today to discuss Akin, where he said “the Akin story will be important inside Missouri,” and then pivoted to talking about economic issues. Rove, whose Crossroads connections weren't disclosed by Fox, did not discuss Crossroads' ad strategy in Missouri.
Brian Kilmeade: “If You Want [McCaskill] Out” Tell Akin To Drop Out
During his Fox News Radio program, Kilmeade said Akin made a “moronic series of statements” and is “damaged goods. He's done. He's a dead man walking as a candidate.” Fox News contributor Michael Goodwin said that Akin appeared “like a doofus” and that the remarks are “possibly fatal” for his campaign and could have repercussions on other races.
Kilmeade later made clear he was upset at Akin because his remarks might allow Sen. Claire McCaskill -- “an embarrassment” -- to get re-elected.
“I believe that McCaskill has got to go,” Kilmeade said. “She's an embarrassment and now she's trying to change all her stands and run to the president -- run from the president. If you want her out of there, and I do, what you got to say is to Todd Akin, thanks so much, you're a sincere guy but clearly you're not ready and you should ask him to step out.”
On Twitter, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs wrote “Senator John Cornyn has it right, telling Akin to exit Senate race” and “It's very simple: Akin goes now.”
Michelle Malkin: Is “Sticking By Self-Inflicted-Wounded Akin... More Important Than Securing A U.S. Senate Majority” ?
On her website, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote that Akin “said some really, really stupid things. ... There's no sugar-coating or whitewashing this. It wasn't a 'gaffe.' It was ignorant, garbled nonsense.”
Malkin concluded by writing that the “The Senate race in Missouri is still winnable” and “The question for Republicans in Missouri is whether sticking by self-inflicted-wounded Akin is more important than securing a U.S. Senate majority.”
Tammy Bruce: Replace Akin With Sarah Steelman
On Twitter, Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce agreed that Akin should be replaced and wrote that Akin “exposed a bizarre way of thinking that is unacceptable to the nation as a whole.” Bruce also suggested that the GOP replace Akin with Sarah Steelman, who came in 3rd in the Republican Senate primary.
Dick Morris: Akin Must Withdraw Because His Comment “Makes It Impossible For Him To Beat” McCaskill
His ridiculous comment that somehow women won't get pregnant from “legitimate rape” (whatever that is?) makes it impossible for him to beat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. Before Akin's stupid comment, he had a nine point lead over McCaskill, the most of any Republican insurgent against a Democratic incumbent in the country.
But after his comment, he has no chance of winning. That seat could well be the difference between a majority and a minority in the Senate!
Morris was a supporter of Sarah Steelman in the Missouri Republican primary.
*This post was updated with additional content.