Akin controversy proves "all politics is local" is a thing of the past

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin celebrates his win in the senate primary race at his campaign party at the Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles, Mo., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.
Christian Gooden,AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

(CBS News) If anyone this year has reason to doubt the old adage coined by former House Speaker Tip O'Neill that "all politics is local," it's Rep. Todd Akin.

The six-term Republican survived the Republican Senate primary in Missouri after outside groups with a national agenda spent a slew of cash on the race. Then, after his offensive remarks about rape and abortion created an uproar on Sunday, Akin faced national condemnation and saw his support from the Republican Party, the Tea Party and American Crossroads all evaporate.

Akin says he deserves another chance: "I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing [Democratic Sen.] Claire McCaskill," he said. But in the era of super PACs, nationwide grassroots mobilization and nonstop media attention, Akin may not survive the scrutiny.

Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois -- no stranger to controversy himself -- called Akin's comments "absolutely offensive, ugly, misguided, wrong [and] insulting."

"I found it to be terribly disappointing and unbelievably insulting," he continued.

That said, the congressman added, "We live in an age where -- it's no exaggeration -- when I walk outside my house to the time I go home and go to bed at night, I've got one to two to three cameras following me... Because of this age we live in, every word I say can get sliced and diced and put up on YouTube."

Walsh is engaged in one of this year's most high-profile congressional races in Illinois' newly-redrawn 8th district. As a freshman who came into office with the Tea Party wave of 2010, Walsh has focused his campaign on the national issues that drive conservatives to the polls, like President Obama's health care law and the national debt. His Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, meanwhile, is an Iraq war veteran with support from Mr. Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and liberals nationwide.

"My thesis would be everything's national" in congressional elections, Walsh said to CBSNews.com. "Because our national problems are still so big and so pressing, it dwarfs anything local."


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