U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh had fellow Congressman Todd Akin's back as other Republicans questioned the Missourian's ability to unseat a Democratic incumbent in an important Senate race.
“What he said was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I’m bothered by this rush to pile on," Walsh said. "And I’m bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him.”
Walsh's comments Tuesday evening came as Akin defied party leaders' calls for Akin to drop out of the Senate race after commenting that women's bodies can somehow prevent pregnancies in cases of legitimate rape.
Akin released a video Tuesday apologizing for the comments and insisted on morning network TV shows and conservative talk radio that top Republicans were overreacting.
That's the tone Walsh took, too, at a Multi-County Young Republican Conference in Yorkville, which is about 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Kendall County. Walsh emphasized that Akin won a tough three-way primary.
"This is a tough business," Walsh (8th District) said Tuesday. "This man has had a long career. He said one thing that is insulting and offensive, and he’s apologized for it.”
Missouri is a key battleground in the GOP's attempt to win control of the Senate. Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan each have asked Akin to abandon his Senate race. Several Republican senators pulled out of an upcoming fundraiser for Akin, and four former senators from Missouri have asked him to drop out. Karl Rove said Akin would not receive donations from the party's big financial backers.
Walsh predicted Akin would at least stay neck-to-neck with his opponent in the coming weeks.
The other two Republican congressmen at the Multi-County Young Republican Conference were less supportive.
Rep. Peter Roskam (6th District), who also is the Chief Deputy Whip, and Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th District) said Akin had a responsibility to Republicans to consider whether he could unseat Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
“There’s nobody who is saying Todd Akin is unworthy to serve," Roskam said. "There is no one saying he is immoral or incapable. He’s not; he made a poor decision. The question is: Can he win in November? … This is an election about a generational change. If we squander this one opportunity we have, we will all look back and say: 'Oh, if only.'”
Hultgren said he hopes Akin "does look beyond himself."
"We’re at a tipping point right now," Hultgren said. "We do need the Senate, and we do need the White House.”