Saying that the two “teamed up” on the bill is wildly misleading. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is a major anti-abortion advocate, was the main sponsor of that measure, and Mr. Akin and Mr. Ryan were two of 227 co-sponsors. The bill passed the House last year, but it died in the Senate.
“This is another in a string of false attacks by the Obama campaign,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement Monday. “Mitt Romney’s position is clear: he is pro-life. He opposes abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The Obama campaign is attempting to scare voters with false charges in an effort to distract from President Obama’s litany of failures in office.”
Mr. Romney on Monday rebuked Mr. Akin for making the comments, calling them “insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong.”
“Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive,” Mr. Romney told National Review Online, noting that his view is “entirely different” and Mr. Akin’s remarks were “entirely without merit and he should correct it.”
He did not call on Mr. Akin to end his campaign.
Mr. Romney’s comments Monday were stronger than spokeswoman Andrea Saul’s response the day before, when she said Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, “disagree” with Mr. Akin and “would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
Mr. Akin, who is running to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, set off a national furor Sunday when he told a local television station that he had talked to doctors and believes pregnancies resulting from rape are “really rare.”
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said. “But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
He since has said he misspoke and now understands that women can get pregnant by rape.