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The Star’s editorial | Akin must decide whether to quit race

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin did more than misspeak when he discussed “legitimate rape” as no reason for permitting abortion.

He handed Missouri voters and fellow members of the GOP reason to turn away from a man with such backward, insensitive and flat-out wrong ideas about human biology.

With calls mounting for Akin to withdraw as a candidate before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline — which then would allow the Missouri Republican Committee to choose a replacement candidate — we would certainly understand if he chose that path or was pressured to opt out by party leaders.

But we will not add our voice.

Traditionally, we favor letting democratically elected candidates rise or wither on their own merits. In the absence of financial or criminal malfeasance, the voters’ decision determines the contest. The crime of intemperate remarks doesn’t necessarily win a do-over or the chance for the party to choose a stronger contender.

Certainly, he’s a state embarrassment and we abhor his remarks. But Republican primary voters chose him, and unless he volunteers to exit the scene, we say the state gets a choice in November, and Akin has to live with his “open mouth, insert foot” record.

The wonder is why his primary opponents didn’t force the issue of how extremely conservative his record shows him to be. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill called him out in pre-primary TV ads as “too conservative” for Missouri.

Seems pretty on target.

Akin faces the wrong opponent to raise the issue of rape.

McCaskill, as a former Jackson County prosecutor, has a reality check for her opponent. She has prosecuted rapists and defended victims. She rightly called his remarks offensive but stopped short of calling for him to exit the race.

That’s not surprising. McCaskill’s backers figured Akin would be beatable, and the congressman from the St. Louis area has more than lived up to the “too conservative” billing.

Akin has spoken out in opposition to the federal school lunch program, a decades-old effort to make sure poor children aren’t learning on empty stomachs. He repeated his comparison likening federally backed student loans to stage three cancer, managing to comingle and denigrate families in need of college loan assistance and legions of families who don’t take cancer references lightly.

Conservatives got their man, and now they are running from him.

On Mike Huckabee’s radio show Monday, Akin said he’s not a quitter. Here’s a thought: Quit espousing heartless, ignorant and embarrassing statements.