Romney touted endorsement from Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ expert

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made clear they don’t subscribe to Todd Akin’s infamous claim that “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy. But in 2007, the Romney campaign touted the endorsement of the anti-abortion doctor who Akin appears to have gotten the idea from.

Akin has cited as a source for his claim Dr. John Willke, an anti-abortion activist who wrote a paper in 1999 outlining his belief that women can’t become pregnant by “forcible rape. 

The New York Daily News  Tuesday highlighted a press release put out by Romney’s 2007-08 presidential campaign, after Willke endorsed him. “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country,” Romney said in the release. 

In fact, the ties between the two men still appear strong. London’s Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that Willke says as recently as October 2011, he met with Romney at a campaign stop in Cincinnati. 

“He told me ‘thank you for your support—we agree on almost everything, and if I am elected President I will make some major pro-life pronouncements’,” Willke told the Telegraph.

Between Romney’s connection to Willke, and Paul Ryan’s co-sponsorship of multiple bills that sought to distinguish between rape and “forcible rape,” it’s getting harder for the Romney campaign to distance itself from Akin. 

Paul Ryan certainly tried this week, saying that despite H.R. 3 and his other abortion bills, “rape is rape, and there’s no splitting hairs.”

As Rachel Maddow pointed out on Wednesday, Romney and Ryan’s current claims are a “test for the press.” 

“Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are actively trying to rewrite and distort their own record on the issue of abortion and rape and pregnancy at a time when the country is focused like a laser on this issue,” Maddow said.

And she posed a question for the Beltway press: “Do you just write down what they say? Do you report on what these candidates say their record is, or do you report that, but also compare it to what their actual record is, and then badger them when there’s a difference between those accounts?”

We’ll be watching for the answer.

Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, Reproductive Rights and Mitt Romney

Romney touted endorsement from Akin's 'legitimate rape' expert

Updated