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The Brief: Aug. 21, 2012

In Texas, the eruption over a Missouri Senate candidate's comment on rape has exposed a fault line among Republicans over abortion.

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Jan. 27, 2009, before Perry's State of the State address.

The Big Conversation:

In Texas, the eruption over a Missouri Senate candidate's comment on rape has exposed a fault line among Republicans over abortion.

GOP state leaders on Tuesday joined the chorus of national Republicans calling for U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., to withdraw from the state's U.S. Senate race after he suggested in an interview on Sunday that women's bodies reject pregnancy in instances of "legitimate rape."

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, privately asked the congressman to withdraw from the race, according to The New York Times.

"Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible," Cornyn said in a statement. "I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service."

Gov. Rick Perry's office called Akin's comment "off-base, insensitive and a distraction from the important issue of protecting life."

But as the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw writes today, many top Texas Republicans share Akin's opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest, putting them at odds with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who on Sunday released a statement saying they "would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." (Romney will appear at three fundraisers today in Midland.)

Those Republicans — who include PerryAttorney General Greg AbbottU.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — say they only support abortion exceptions when a mother's life is in danger.

Akin, who has since apologized for his remarks, faces intense pressure from the Republican Party, which, along with a major Super PAC, has threatened to withdraw funding from Missouri, a state observers considered a likely Republican pick-up. The congressman, though, has so far resisted calls to drop out — and this morning released a TV ad asking for "forgiveness."


  • U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz has secured a prominent speaking role on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next week, the Tribune's Jay Root reported Monday. Cruz will speak Monday, before Ann Romney, who will headline the night. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and Lucé Vela Fortuño, the first lady of Puerto Rico, are also scheduled to speak Monday.
  • Gov. Rick Perry told state agencies on Monday that despite the Obama administration’s deportation deferral program for illegal immigrants, Texas' immigration policies remain unchanged. "These guidelines do not change our obligations under federal and Texas law to determine a person’s eligibility for state and local public benefit," Perry wrote in a letter to the agencies. "Federal law prohibits conferring such benefits to most unlawfully present aliens, absent a state law to the contrary."
  • Dallas County on Monday continued its aerial spraying to combat West Nile virus, but as The Dallas Morning News reports, news of 20 new infections has kept the area — what has suffered the worst West Nile outbreak in the nation — on edge. "Those new cases are all over Dallas County. Don’t believe that your city is not affected," said County Judge Clay Jenkins.

"The committee has communicated to the congressman that we believe him staying in the race could put majority at risk. We will not be funding this race if he stays in." — An unnamed Republican official to Politico on the National Republican Senatorial Committee's plans to withdraw funding from Missouri if Todd Akin stays in the race


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