(WASHINGTON) — Todd Akin may regret how he said it, but he doesn’t regret what he meant.
The former Missouri Republican’s Senate campaign crumbled in 2012 after he said that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” and prevent an unwanted pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”
Now, just months before the 2014 mid-term election, Akin has returned with Firing Back — a book about his life, his politics and, yes, an attempt to clarify what may have been the most notorious comment of the previous cycle.
“Obviously no rape is legitimate,” Akin told ABC News in an interview. “It’s a serious, serious crime. But legitimate rape is a law enforcement term for legitimate case of rape. Rape is not legitimate, it’s the particular circumstances.”
Akin went on to say that his remark related to the female body’s ability to shut down reproductive abilities if raped was “not very well stated.”
“What I was simply saying is: stress plays a role in whether somebody’s eggs fertilize or somebody gets pregnant,” Akin said. “The probability of pregnancy as a result of rape is less than it might be otherwise.”
Akin said he knows it is possible for women to get pregnant through rape, noting that he had volunteers working on his campaign who were conceived through rape.
The heart of the debate, from Akin’s perspective, is over whether children conceived through rape have the same right to life as children conceived through consensual sex. As a strict adherent to pro-life principles, Akin opposes abortion except in cases when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.
“The first question is, ‘Is it ever right to intentionally take the life of an innocent person?’” Akin said. “The second question is, ‘What is it that is inside a woman when she’s pregnant?’ …They still have a right to life in my opinion; now, whether the rapist has a right to life, that’s a different discussion.”
Akin said there’s an ironic contrast between his status as a Republican outcast and former President Bill Clinton’s revered status within the Democratic Party. About two weeks after Akin’s infamous remarks, Clinton was a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
“Clinton still has a long history of…sexual inappropriate behavior, and he gets a standing ovation or whatever it is, they’re clapping, cheering because he’s their keynote speaker,” Akin said. “Now, there’s a difference between an action and a word.”
The timing of Akin’s book release during an election year begs the question of whether the disgraced politician is trying to make a political comeback. And while he said he doesn’t currently have any plans to run for office, he isn’t ruling it out.
He also had some choice words for Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads Super PAC has been a major force in supporting moderate Republican candidates in primaries across the country. He was also one of the earliest Republican operatives to denounce Akin following his “legitimate rape” remarks.
“[Rove says] we’re going to give up on primary elections in various states, and we’re going to select the guy we know that’s the best, he says ‘the most conservative guy we can get elected,’” Akin said. “What they’re saying is they believe in selection over elections. So, it’s just a really dumb thing to do. And because I’m not running for office, I don’t mind calling dumb dumb.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Dylan Byers Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak, CNN