October surprise: What the GOP actually thinks about rape

October surprise: What the GOP actually thinks about rape (LA Times/David Horsey / October 30, 2012)

Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party usurper who took down Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary, created the biggest political buzz last week by uttering the following sentence in a televised debate: "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen."

In an exercise that is becoming repetitive this year, slightly more sane Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain were forced to disassociate themselves from the comments of one of their political compatriots -- not that Mr. Romney put much distance between himself and Mr. Mourdock. Mr. Romney is maintaining his vigorous support of Mr. Mourdock, since keeping the Indiana seat in GOP hands is key to a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate.

Besides, if he were to forsake Mr. Mourdock because the man does not favor an abortion exemption for women impregnated by rapists, he would also have to cut ties to as many as 11 other Republican Senate candidates who hold the same position. Among them is the rape-doubting Missourian Todd Akin, who famously offered the interesting idea that women cannot get pregnant if they are victims of "legitimate rape" because their bodies will just say no.

The fact is, in Republican circles, banning abortion in nearly all cases is no longer a radical position -- it's even part of the platform adopted at the national convention in Tampa -- so Mr. Romney has stayed studiously vague on the issue. This, of course, is not the case with Mr. Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, who was one of the proud sponsors of an anti-abortion bill in the House that was so stringent it would also ban in vitro fertilization.

If asked about Mr. Ryan's stance, Mr. Romney could simply repeat the statement his campaign sent out for him when asked about Mr. Mourdock: "I disagree with his views on rape and incest, but I still support him."

Rape and incest, huh? It is hardly surprising that the man who might be president tolerates more than one view on those two issues. Mr. Romney has tried out multiple positions on everything else and, chances are, he will find himself agreeing with Mr. Mourdock in no time at all.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.