Within hours of GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin's deadline to withdraw from the race without a court order, Illinois congressmen were discussing his heavily criticized comments about "legitimate rape" and the party's reaction.
Rep. Peter Roskam (6th District), who also is the Chief Deputy Whip, and Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th District) said Akin had a responsibility to Republicans to consider whether he could unseat Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
“I hope he does look beyond himself," Hultgren said. "We’re at a tipping point right now. We do need the Senate, and we do need the White House.”
Their comments came during a Multi-County Young Republican Conference in Yorkville designed to rally participants and help form talking points weeks before the election. About 150 attended the conference at on Tuesday evening, with moderator Dan Proft, of WLS-AM, volleying his own questions and some from the audience.
Akin, who is a congressman, decided to stay the course with his campaign Tuesday and maintained his fellow Republicans were overreacting to statements "that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of 'legitimate rape,'" The Huffington Post reported.
Rep. Joe Walsh (8th District) criticized Republican leaders for abandoning Akin.
“What he said was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I’m bothered by this rush to pile on," Walsh said. "And I’m bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him.”
But Roskam said the fight for a Republican majority in the Senate was the central issue.
“There’s nobody who is saying Todd Akin is unworthy to serve," Roskam said. "There is no one saying he is immoral or incapable. He’s not; he made a poor decision. The question is: Can he win in November? … This is an election about a generational change. If we squander this one opportunity we have, we will all look back and say: 'Oh, if only.'”
The conversation turned from that to minorities and women in the Republican Party. Proft said the number of women and minorities elected to statewide offices as Republicans just wasn't reported in the media after the 2010 election.
Roskam emphasized the number of Republican congressmen who were African-American or part of another minority group.
“We’re a party where we deal with different issues, but let’s face it, this campaign, this election, is about how to turn this economy around," Roskam said. "There’s one team that’s ready to turn this country around.”
Then, the conversation turned to Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney choice for a running mate. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, can explain in simple terms how the federal government is improperly spending more money than it receives, Hultgren said.
“He understands (the federal budget) but more than that he can explain it in an understandable way,” Hultgren said. “Paul Ryan is going to do a great job of being able to do that.”
Roskam earned a standing ovation minutes later by encouraging the Republicans gathered at the conference to "put everything on the table" preparing for Election Night.
“Let’s make the good guys back in control," Roskam said. "What do you say?”