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Conservative Christians rally around Akin in face of GOP criticism
Rep. Todd Akin has defied GOP pressure to get out of the U.S. Senate race in Missouri.
August 23rd, 2012
01:12 PM ET

Conservative Christians rally around Akin in face of GOP criticism

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Even as the official Republican Party continues to try to derail Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin over his remarks about “legitimate rape,” a powerful force within the GOP has begun rallying to the candidate’s side: the party’s socially conservative base.

Powerful Christian activists in the GOP have begun pushing back against party leadership, alleging it has gone too far in trying to thwart Akin and that it is attempting to sideline issues that social conservatives care about, such as abortion.

The criticism is creating major tensions between the mainstream Republican Party and a key part of its base days before the GOP’s convention is set to open in Tampa, Florida.

“Following the pounding of Todd Akin by the GOP kings and lieutenants in the last 36 hours, I've come to the conclusion that the real issue is the soul of America,” wrote David Lane, an evangelical activist who’s influential in the Republican Party, in an e-mail to fellow activists Thursday morning.

Top Catholic to close GOP convention

“The swift knee-jerk reaction to throw Akin, a strong conservative pro-life, pro-family born again Christian under the bus by some in the Republican Party is shining the light on their actual agenda,” Lane continued.

“We haven't seen anything this vicious since some of the same operatives did this to (Sarah) Palin.”

While many conservative Christian groups have criticized Akin over his “legitimate rape” comment and for claiming that women’s bodies can prevent conception in such cases, the groups have also emphasized that they stand with Akin in opposing abortion, even in instances of rape.

Not all conservative Christian activists are taking Akin's side against the GOP.

"I think it splits the social conservative movement," says Richard Land, who heads public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention. "Some people say, 'Look he is our guy, we are going to stand with him.'

"And some people are saying the odds are this is a fatal blow at least in this election cycle," Land says. "For the good of the movement, for the good of the pro-life cause ... he needs to do what's best for the cause and throw himself on his shield."

Land, who was in Tampa on Thursday attending meetings around the convention, said he thinks Akin should drop out.

Many Republican leaders, from presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, also have called on Akin to get out of the race.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the American Crossroads super PAC that backs GOP candidates both announced that they will stop spending money on the Missouri Senate race. Even tea party groups that have backed Akin in the past said he should step aside for the good of the party and the conservative cause.

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the social conservative criticisms of the party on Thursday.

Akin, who won a tough primary battle this month, has apologized for his comments but also defied pressure to get out of the election.

Republican officials have told CNN on condition of not being identified that the Akin controversy hurts on several fronts. It decreases the chances of capturing Missouri’s Senate seat, which is crucial to GOP hopes of winning control of the chamber, they said.

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And the brouhaha shifts the national discussion to divisive social issues that could repel swing voters rather than economic ones that could attract them in a climate of high unemployment and stumbling recovery, the GOP officials said.

Akin has bowed to Republican pressure to skip the Republican convention next week. But the Senate candidate was in Tampa on Wednesday night to meet with a powerful group of religious conservatives, according to a source familiar with the trip.

In a note to supporters Wednesday night, conservative Family Research Council President Tony Perkins heaped criticism on the GOP for abandoning Akin.

"Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children, and families and unlike the GOP establishment, I refuse to throw him under the bus over one inarticulate comment for which he has apologized,” wrote Perkins, who is in Tampa attending events leading up the convention.

“As for the GOP, it has no rational basis for deserting Akin when it has stood by moderate Republicans who've done worse,” Perkins continued. “Singling out Todd suggests a double standard, designed to drive out social conservatives.”

CNN’s Tom Cohen and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Abortion • Politics • Tea Party

soundoff (1,510 Responses)
  1. WallyWolf

    This guy is just plain stupid and dangerous, especially someone serving in Congress. There are a lot of mean and not so loveable Forest Gumps in the Republican Tea Party today. Their mouths are disconnected to any form of intelligent life. How can anyone back such blatant ignorance? Does anyone bother to check facts today rather than just believe what they hear in a 15-second soundbite? I'm beinning to think if the power-that-be billionaires ran commericials endorsing the Nazi Party, half the nation would join up. That's how bad it is today.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  2. nokoolaidcowboy

    Dude looks orange...
    Come Repubs! Come out of the cellar! Be proud to show your true, outdated, misogynistic points of view!
    Come out of the cellar!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  3. skarphace

    There should now be no more doubt about the true Republican agenda. They can no longer hide behind their talk of the debt, the economy, jobs, and the budget. Akin has shown the world their true colors.

    Republicans want our civil laws to be in line with God's Law. They want our political system to be a Theocracy, ruled by the extreme religious right.

    In short, they want the exact political system that Europeans fled when they came across the ocean to create this once great country.

    Fortunately, it is not to late to stop these zealots who have infiltrated our political system. However, it soon will be if we do nothing to stop it.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  4. Horus

    Let's not call this guy s t u p i d. He's just really lacking in ability to think.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  5. CapnKirk

    The Republican leadership understood Aikin's position is not necessarily popular with independent voters. They wan this topic to go away as quick as possible. The extreme conservatives don't understand what's good for them.

    Keep the topic Alive!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JamesT

      fortunately the religious right has a reflexive reaction to any discussion on marriage equality or abortion. They just can't help themselves, even when it hurts their political wing.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • PLEASE DON'T FEED THE TROLLS1

      kthx

      August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      I'm praying to my invisible pink unicorn that you will one day get a clue.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • BlackPeopleMeet.com

      Hi Prayer-Bot.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Hahahahahaha

      So does being without Oxygen. Just look at Willard Romney. Hahahahaahahaha

      August 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  7. therealpeace2all

    I, personally, found the following post by @Mass Debater (on page #7 of this article) to be quite salient and germane to this ongoing discussion.

    Mass Debater-

    " The fact is that the conservatives who believe this nonsense, or even the moronic position taken by the personhood amendments, put them squarely in the same camp with other crazies like many PETA supporters who want to criminalize the killing and eating of any animals. Both want to take something that has established laws governing the line between legal and criminal actions and throw away any reason in the name of "how some feel about it". The law says we can kill and eat animals as long as it's done in a safe and humane way, it also says a fertilized egg isn't a human until it reaches 24 weeks. You can have your own opinion and choose not to eat any animals and become a vegan if you want. You can also decide not to abort your fertilized egg if you choose. But as soon as you slap the steak out of someone elses mouth or thrown rocks at a Planned Parenthood, you have crossed the line in America and you are now the criminal regardless of how you "feel" about it.

    If you think eating animals is murder, or if you feel abortion before 24 weeks is murder, thats fine, but leave your feelings at home along with your buckets of cow blood you planned on throwing at people who don't share your "feelings".

    Just keep that in mind as you head off to your next planned parenthood picket line, you and PETA have far more in common than you might think. "

    August 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Excellent, IMO !!!

    Peace...

    August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • CB

      So we're equating those against killing animals with those against killing humans??? Hmmmm.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Answer

      Religious retards are all into their "feelings"..

      Anytime you see them – they're pleading on hands and knees for someone to notice their "feelings." They never do any real work of solving any problems but are pleased with themselves just to hear that others have noticed their feelings.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      @CB

      Zygotes aren't people.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  8. pmmarion@msn.com

    Now would be a good time to throw the whack jobs under the bus and try to have a more "main stream" party. As long as the RRR is part of the GOP I will NEVER vote for another Rethuglican.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • William

      Ditto!!

      August 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • RockInD

      It will take at least another 4 years for the "Thinking Conservatives" to take back the Republican Party. Till then there is only 1 choice.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  9. LiberaLIowan

    One thing that a lot of people don't seem to realize, is that crazy akin was actually chosen by about 35% of repukes. He was in a three way race and the other two got the other 65%. Do the tea_tards really think he can win with those numbers? He won't, but please keep wasting your time.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  10. William

    A big "Thank You" to Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin !
    Thank You for showing the world what an ill informed, woman hater & unqualified Politician you are !
    Thank You for showing the world that half the voters of Missouri are such uneducated, backward hicks & Aniti Choice zealots that they STILL support you even after you've made them & Missouri a laughing stock & running joke !
    THANK YOU for showing the world how UN-Christian you self appointed "Conservatives Christians" really are!!
    I Love It !! The Truth Finally shines !!!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • William

      I totally agree w me!
      This is better than when this same group proclaimed the story of Adam & Eve was as valid as Darwinism & should be taught to all American children as just as valid!
      It's about time the Republican party separated itself from these extremist nut jobs!
      How ANY woman could vote for Akin or Ryan or Ryan's Mormon running mate. I'll never understand !!

      August 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • skarphace

      William: "I totally agree with me!"

      LOL. You remind me of Stephen Colbert.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • garth

      YOU HAVE HIT THE NAIL RIGHT ON THE HEAD

      August 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • RockInD

      And Thank You for making Texas not look so bad!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things , .

    August 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Horus

      Critical thought and reason are actually proven to be quite healthy......

      August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • skarphace

      Blind faith changes things as well, but not for the better.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      ...except your way of thinking.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  13. Saboth

    I'll say it once: If you base your vote off of a pro-life stance of a candidate, you are a terrible person that probably shouldn't be allowed to vote.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • William

      Don't forget, they're also irresponsible, naive, people being controlled by those far, far, smarter they'l ever be !!
      It reminds me of the Crusades ... when the Pope sent all those "Good Christians" to invaded Muslim lands, pillaging, raping, murdering, & stealing from those nasty "heretics (ie..Non Christians) ...all in the name of Christ !!
      Throughout mankind's history, organized religions like the Pope's has dragged us back 2 steps every time we've advanced three!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  14. ArthurP

    Abortions are primary caused by unwanted pregnancy
    Unwanted pregnancies are caused by lack of readily available se.x education and contraceptives
    Lack of readily available se.x education and contraceptives is caused by religious beliefs

    So then that means that it is religious beliefs that are primary responsible for abortions.

    Who knew?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Saboth

      Careful, they turn rabid when you employ logic against them.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • skarphace

      Yes, it is rather hypocritical of Teavangelicals to want to both outlaw contraceptives and abortion at the same time.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Zeb

      @skarphace: actually the repub strategy of banning contraceptives and abortions makes perfect sense! In another few decades, we'll be overrun with hordes of uneducated tea-baggers, and so they'll win every election...8-)

      August 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  15. skarphace

    notraitors: "single- and step-parent families are not in fact suitable alternatives to the traditional 2-parent family."

    Even if that was true (which I don't think science can prove either way since each situation is unique), what are you going to do? Make it illegal for anybody to raise children who is not in a 'normal' relationship as defined by the church?

    What you are suggesting is even more extreme than what Akin is, and is, I believe, the heart and soul of the Republican Platform: make our civil laws more in line with God's Law.

    There is a name for this type of political system: a Theocracy.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • sam

      He's been posting that nonsense everywhere he goes. He thinks he's mr Traditional Family Values.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  16. Damich

    Nature = forever changing; evolving. Conservatives = Not changing; not evolving. I'll never get this party.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  17. Anomic Office Drone

    I guess to the GOP hardliners stupid, unqualified and dangerously ignorant are all okay as long as the stupid, unqualified and dangerously ignorant individual has that little (R) next to his name.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  18. jennymay

    Ok well I don't care if you generally agree with a person, NO ONE should support some uneducated idiot spouting his uneducated ideas. Especially one who is supposed to be on a science committee. If your belief is the true way, all you need is truth.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  19. Scott_Frankfort

    does anyone besides me find some irony that the influence being exercised by conservative, evangelical Protestant church establishment has actually seized the role of the boogeyman in our politics, the very role that they railed against when the Roman Catholic Al Smith and John Kennedy ran for president?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • skarphace

      It is even more ironic when you consider that the Tea Party ran on a 'Don't Tread on Me' idea of a less intrusive government, and yet they are the ones who want that same government to force all Americans to live by their 'Christian Conservative' ideals.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • RockInD

      What I find ironic is that traditionally, the Evangelical Protestant Church doesn't even consider Catholics and Mormons to be Christians yet they rail against the protestant Obama. I guess that is because he supports choice.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • skarphace

      RockInD: there could also be another reason...

      August 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  20. Tom

    Texas has more nincompoops than any other state in the USA.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • RockInD

      That's because it's so big. We've got room for a lot more unfortunately.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • v_mag

      We're bad that way, but we have been given a run for our money in recent years. Think of the Kansas school board, the governor of South Carolina, the honorable gentlemen in this story from Missouri, that nutcake congressman King from New York, or anybody from Mississippi or Alabama. But yeah, Texas is one butt-stupid state.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.