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Piers Morgan puts up empty chair after Akin cancels appearance

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
updated 8:51 PM EDT, Tue August 21, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The stunt immediately sparks a Twitter parody account
  • "I am not going to SIT out this Senate race," @AkinEmptyChair tweets

(CNN) -- When the Republican Senate candidate who said "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy canceled plans to appear on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," the CNN chat show host did not hurriedly book another guest for his Monday night show.

Instead, the program turned its cameras on an empty chair.

"Congressman," the CNN host addressed Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, "you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it.

"If you don't keep your promise to appear on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain a gutless little twerp."

Opinion: It's not just Akin

Within minutes, the phrase "gutless little twerp" was streaking around the Internet, and the Morgan stunt garnered Twitter's ultimate accolade -- a parody account.

@AkinEmptyChair began churning out criticism of Akin and the presumptive Republican White House ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, along with puns like: "I am not going to SIT out this Senate race."

"If Akin wins will he be the CHAIRman of the ARM(chair) Service Committee?" the satirist tweeted later.

High-profile media figures including Kelly O'Donnell of NBC jumped on the bandwagon, and Morgan himself gave the account a shout-out.

Throughout the show, Morgan kept up the live picture of the "empty chair" in the corner of the screen with a banner that said "Exclusive."

Clock ticking for Akin as GOP urges him to withdraw

Akin's comments: Send your thoughts, testimonies

But not everyone was a fan of the stunt, with Greg Pollowitz of the right-wing National Review tweeting: "I think the empty chair is out-debating Piers Morgan."

Akin, an uncompromising opponent of abortion, made his controversial comment in an interview with KTVI.

Later, he tried to roll back.

Akin's remarks deemed 'harmful' to rape survivors

"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin said in a written statement.

Akin's remarks caused an uproar, prompting many in his party asking him to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race.

"The chair has a better chance of being elected," tweeted Ben Greenman, an editor at New Yorker magazine.

Akin is hoping to unseat Missouri's Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who got her own parody account in the wake of Piers Morgan's show.

‏@AkinEmptyChair quickly rose to the bait, vowing: "I will debate @chairmccaskill anywhere any time."

Akin asks for 'forgiveness' in new TV ad

Should Akin quit the race? Share your views with us on CNN iReport.

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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