STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
In Tampa, where Republicans are gathering for their convention, Todd Akin has been meeting with supporters, including the Family Research Council, which, like Akin, opposes abortion rights. Connie Mackey heads the council's political action committees.
Mr. Akin, as I'm sure you know very well, as he defended his action, he said he misspoke, but then he said that he had said one word in one sentence on one day that was wrong. Is that all he got wrong?
CONNIE MACKEY: Unfortunately, no. The statement was wrong, plain and simple, and he unfortunately, I think, tried to defend some language that had been given to him some years ago. And I mean it doesn't change his pro-life stance and concern for the unborn as well as the woman, but the statement was wrong.
INSKEEP: And let's be clear on this. It seems that he was talking about the fact that he referred to a woman who was a victim of "legitimate rape." That seemed to be the one word, "legitimate," that he regretted, but there was this other bit of fake science about women "shutting that whole thing down," in terms of getting pregnant.
MACKEY: Yeah. Well, you know, since he's made that statement, I have gotten calls from doctors wanting to defend him. I don't know the science on this, so I'm not going into those weeds. I can tell you that the statement as far as we can see was wrong. It's probably, I think, statements that were given to him some time ago, and I'm sure he regrets having referenced them now.
INSKEEP: I suppose one of the things that outraged so many people across the country was the suggestion, or the implication, the idea that there may be women who just wanted it, that perhaps that wasn't a real rape. Is that part of...
MACKEY: That's horrible. I think you're right. I think that was perceived that way, and it's horrific. It's just horrific. The images, and I mean, we talked about this in the car coming over, we know what the images are. We know the horror of it all, and they're very obvious, and that's, I think, part of why this thing blew up so quickly and so easily. When you try to go into the weeds politically, it's a disaster, as we just saw.
INSKEEP: Why support him then?
MACKEY: Oh, I support him because he's totally pro-life. The man has been elected six times by his community because he's a good and decent man. He served in the Army. He's got two sons that are serving the country as Marines. He's done legislatively everything, you know, that you could ask for. He understands the economic issues. He beat two other people in a three-way primary. You're going to walk away from a candidate who's done everything right except for this gaffe, that he should never have gone into the weeds, is his biggest - his biggest sin.
INSKEEP: It seems that some people think these are weeds that he should have known. I mean, he's now acknowledged that he made a statement that was based on no science that he's willing to support. How did he not know better, given that he's a legislature who's actually been involved in these issues?
MACKEY: Well, all right. We've got a president - we've got a president who just said men should have no business getting in - doing any legislation on women's issues. That's a horrendous statement.
INSKEEP: When did he say that?
MACKEY: He said that about last week. And you can look up all - you can look these things up. It shows that the press does not follow the other side of these issues.
INSKEEP: We'll go and look up some of these things.
MACKEY: Absolutely. I hope you will, and I hope you'll report on it.
INSKEEP: Let me get back to political practicalities here for a second, because you run a political action committee. Todd Akin is in a situation where he intends to stay in the race, he says. Leading Republican organizations have said that they're going to stop supporting him.
INSKEEP: It takes millions of dollars to run a Senate race.
INSKEEP: Are you going to be able to help Akin stay in the race financially?
MACKEY: Look, we're going to support him, but we can't support him to the degree that Karl Rove's PAC, or the Republicans' PAC, could have supported him. So we will support him as a pro-life champion on Capitol Hill that's been true to his country, and he's been true to the legislature and he's been a good and decent, ethical, moral man, and we're not walking away from him.
INSKEEP: You must know the Republican donor landscape pretty well. Do you think that there are enough Republican or conservative or pro-life donors out there that some could be found to pump millions of dollars into that race?
MACKEY: That's a tough question, and I think probably the answer is - might be no.
INSKEEP: Well, Connie Mackey, thanks very much for taking the time. I appreciate it.
MACKEY: All right. Thank you.
INSKEEP: She is president of the Family Research Council's political action committees. Now, as you heard, Ms. Mackey challenged us to look up a statement she attributed to President Obama that men should have no business doing any legislation on women's issues. We did look it up. Here's what the president actually said about Todd Akin.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.
INSKEEP: The president's actual words during a short news conference on Monday, part of a remarkable week of political news, and there are remarkable weeks to come. The Republican convention begins on Monday in Tampa, Florida, the Democratic convention the week after that. We'll cover it all on NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.