Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna today said he supports abortion rights under Washington law, which voters have upheld twice. At the same time, he put distance between himself, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his party’s national platform, which has a plank opposing abortion even in cases of rape.
“I support a woman’s right to choose under the laws made by the people of this state. I think they are the right laws. I don’t think those will be affected in any way by what is happening nationally,” McKenna said. He added, when asked if he supports the national GOP platform, “I support the laws we have in our state which provide a woman with control over reproductive decisions.”
McKenna made his remarks in the first of a series of weekly talks he plans with reporters – an effort to consolidate requests for interviews at a time his race against Democratic nominee Jay Inslee is kicking into higher gear after the Aug. 7 primary in which Inslee got more votes.
McKenna also repeated his criticism of the Missouri Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, saying Todd Akin should withdraw after making statements about women’s bodies naturally blocking pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Akin’s comments set off a firestorm of criticism and requests inside his own party to withdraw but he is refusing to drop his challenge of Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Asked about Akin withdrawing, McKenna was blunt: “It’s the best option because what he said was wrong. And no one who holds those beliefs regarding rape should be seeking office in this country.”
McKenna added when asked about Akin’s apology, which is made in a new ad, that Akin has damaged his credibility and that of his state and country with his earlier remarks. Describing himself as someone who supported a local sexual assault agency for 15 years, McKenna said: “I was offended and appalled by what he said.” I think it disqualifies him from holding or seeking higher office.”
McKenna said the top of the ticket can have an effect on state races, but he said he does not think the GOP’s ticket of Romney and vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan are factors in his race with Inslee. He said polling shows the state budget, economy, taxes and education funding are “overwhelmingly” the issues of concern to Washington voters and that Democrats are trying to change the subject - avoiding talk of their failed leadership on school funding and the budget – by trying to make the governor’s race about national issues.
“What I’m saying is the race for governor, like the other races for statewide offices, is going to be driven by statewide concerns,” McKenna said. “That’s what’s going to determine the outcome of the election.”