This is a massive game changer for the election. What Akin's "Legitimate Rape" remarks have done is "organically" reintroduce the abortion issue into the Presidential dialogue, at the worst possible time for Republicans.
To win, Romney must unite white voters by closing the gender gap. Staying on economic issues and away from the abortion issue in particular was not just critical it was imperative. And how does the RNC respond? They dismiss the comments instead of condemn them!
Akin just stepped on the entire Republican presidential narrative, choking off their momentum. The timing interrupts the narrative that Ryan needs to get his shot at making his case for entitlement reform. Romney/Ryan will try to keep driving the conversation back to entitlements, but at best they lose a week and all the momentum going into the convention.
At worst, this stirs up the social conservatives going into the convention. This could make things even worse for the Republicans, who still need to broaden their appeal to non-social issue voters.
This is the biggest single moment of this campaign. The Ryan pick was a good one because it got Republicans on a policy narrative which — if they could sustain the conversation long enough — they had a shot at grabbing swing voters with an "at least they have a plan" reaction.
But no issue, NO ISSUE, shuts down women like abortion. They simply will stop listening. If Romney cannot command these "pro-choice" Republican women, let alone the independent voters, it is over … and its NOT CLOSE.
Editors Note (UPDATE): Since this blog was originally posted, the vast majority of the GOP leadership has distance themselves from Akin.