During the Today's Professionals panel segment on Tuesday's NBC Today, attorney Star Jones predicted that if Todd Akin continues his Senate run in Missouri, the entire Republican Party will be branded with his controversial remarks: "If he doesn't [get out], the Romney/Ryan ticket is going to be tarred with this feather for the entire campaign. They sponsored bills together that pretty much echo this sentiment." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, advertising executive Donny Deutsch struck the same tone, warning: "As far as the GOP, this is going to be devastating if he stays in. Because they have two big issues, the Hispanic vote and the female vote, and it gives them the ultimate poster boy. They're in trouble."
Earlier on the show, co-host Savannah Guthrie interviewed MSNBC political analyst and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and wondered how much the GOP presidential ticket had been hurt by the controversy: "How damaging is it to the campaign that this is suddenly the topic of conversation, abortion, when the Romney campaign has been working very hard to woo women voters?"
After Steele argued the uproar "plays into the overall negative narrative...between the GOP and women," Guthrie turned the topic around and asked if President Obama's impromptu Monday press conference "was designed to make the most of this opportunity."
Steele replied: "Oh, you bet...I mean this was taking advantage of the political opportunity that's being handed to the campaign. Again, furthering the narrative about the, you know, the distance between women and the GOP and playing up those comments and being presidential, if you will, in that moment. So yeah, it was all political theater."
Here is a full transcript of the August 21 Today's Professionals panel segment:
MATT LAUER: We're back now at 8:10 with Today's Professionals, here to break down the days hottest topics. Star Jones, Donny Deutsch, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Guys, good morning to all of you.
Let us start with Representative Todd Akin, the guy out in Missouri who's running for the Senate there finds himself in the middle of a firestorm because of comments he made when asked about his opinions on abortion in cases of rape. And he said the following, basically, that in – victims of "legitimate rape," those were his words, rarely get pregnant. He went on to say this: "If it's legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist." Nancy, start me off. Medically speaking, what's wrong with those words?
NANCY SNYDERMAN: Everything. There's no – first of all, there's no term "legitimate rape" in medicine. There's no situation where a female body can shut down a sperm meeting an egg. The risk of getting pregnant after a rape is about 5%. The risk of getting pregnant with unprotected sex is about 5%. So a woman who gets – is exposed to sperm, runs the risk of being pregnant. This is basic junk.
LAUER: Alright, let's take the medicine out of it now. This is a guy who has now come out and apologized, asked his supporters for forgiveness, say he used the wrong words in the wrong way. Donny and Star, weigh in, what's going to happen here? Should he pull out of this race?
STAR JONES: Well, it depends on which perspective you come from. From the GOP perspective, it helps them for him to pull out and he's got a few more hours to do it. If he doesn't, the Romney/Ryan ticket is going to be tarred with this feather for the entire campaign. They sponsored bills together that pretty much echo this sentiment.
DONNY DEUTSCH: Two issues. First of all, was it a slip of the tongue? You know, sometimes in the media we can overreact and jump. This is not a slip of the tongue. You can very – when you say a very calculated point of view, it was a thoughtful – anything but thoughtful, he's a blithering idiot – point of view. So, you know, shame on him.
As far as the GOP, this is going to be devastating if he stays in. Because they have two big issues, the Hispanic vote and the female vote, and it gives them the ultimate poster boy. They're in trouble.
NANCY SNYDERMAN: I agree with you. We tend to sort of always think, 'Oh well, he didn't mean to do it.' This was a purposeful thing said.
JONES: He actually did mean to do it.