Political Crisis: To Rebound or Breakdown?

5 years 7 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, October 04 2012 Oct 4, 2012 Thursday, October 04, 2012 5:58:00 PM CDT October 04, 2012 in News
By: Mary McGuire
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COLUMBIA - Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, and Todd Akin are all politicians who have weathered an infamous media blitz or two throughout their careers.

Politicians almost seem prone to political controversy. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

"Politicians set themselves up for this. This is their own fault. They try to portray themselves without flaw, as someone said of Robert E. Lee, 'marble men' and 'marble women,' but in fact, they are just like the rest of us," said Martin Overby, politicial science professor at the University of Missouri.

Politicians, it seems, are just like the rest of us and experience the same day-to-day trials and tribulations.

"You're going to find, across the spectrum of the 500-thousand elected officials we have in the United States, examples of all sorts of bad behavior....They cheat on their spouses, they cheat on their taxes, they use bad language," said Overby.

Bad language indeed.

Political crisis manifested itself in Missouri this August, with U.S. Senate Candidate Todd Akin's comments about legitimate rape and pregnancy igniting a firestorm of controversy, setting off the political dialogue of the country, and catapulting Akin into the national spotlight.

"You would never intentionally say something so marginalizing of rape and the role of the woman in the decision, but he certainly came out of the shadows," said Glen Cameron, strategic communications professor at the University of Missouri.

So how did Akin fare in the face of crisis? According to Cameron, pretty well.

"I think he's weathered it. He waited long enough. He didn't sort of do that whole 'move on' thing the next day...he stuck doggedly to his guns," said Cameron.

Akin didn't shift his position and he didn't back down, even in the face of dwindling support from his own party.

"He probably ignored any advice about image and just stubbornly said, admittedly, this is what I am going to do," said Cameron.

Akin, an ordained minister who has openly opposed abortion under any circumstance for years, apologized for the way he said his infamous six-second comment but not for what he said...which could translate to more Akin votes in the ballot box.

"If your focus is the unborn, you're still with him," said Cameron.

Where does Akin go from here, with just about a month to go until Election Day? Cameron says Akin has a few big obstacles to overcome.

"The perception that people might have that 'What kind of a wild card would this guy be as a Senator?' That's his real renovation project...and not to begin to have a pattern," said Cameron.

Overby says not to count out Akin just yet.

"Right after his infelictious remarks, McCaskill's numbers go up, Akin's numbers go down, but more recent polling has that gap narrowing," said Overby.

"You have two candidates that are wounded. Senator McCaskill is not the world'd greatest campaigner, she's not the kind of person that voters really warm up to. And the you have Todd Akin who has shown some rough edges , who says things that repel as many people as they attract," said Overby.

Overby says to never underestimate the general public's short attention span.

"In any week, much less a week in a campaign, there's going to be a million things competing for the public's attention," Overby said.

Election day is November 6, 2012.

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