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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.

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“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. virginia

    I believe in God and i believe there is a greater reason why Akin came into play on this politics today, his support for life has a greater meaning, he is part of the Gop and a good cause to save lives...his cause prolife is greater then any communication error he might have made....the GOP supports Pro-life...Akin Support Prolife cause that is a cause that matters...your support for Akin is a support for pro-life...

    The Republican party as others did distance themselves from 'the stament' at all times they support Pro-life...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      communication error? Saying women can shut themselves down and not get pregnant when ra....ped is not a communication error. It is sheer IGNORANCE and the fact you support that ignorance shows how uneducated you are.

      He could have said he is a pro-life supporter and doesn't agree with abortion in any case, rather than spreading such filthy lies.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • flushthemall

      GOP is Prolife, as in proactively dictating how you can live your life. The GOP really loves to harken back to the puritanical days when they could ascertain your affiliation with witchcraft based on your ability to swim with a cinderblock strapped around your neck and your hands cuffed to your ankles. God knows that if you were a witch, you could not swim in this situation. Same holds true with abortion, you really don't have any reason to abort a fetus, it is a god-given blessing especially when 15 or so gang r@pe and you are fortunate enough to conceive.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Life is an ongoing chemical process that started a couple of billion years ago. The death of a person or fetus has about as much meaning to the process of 'life' as a dying skin cell does to a human being.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Virginia, these young kids voting today were raised on the dregs of TV such as Jerry Springer and Oprah to reject Jesus Christ's truth. We can throw in a few disgusting movies too, as in Born Killers and the likes. Then everyone wonders why violence is so rampant in society today. Yes, TV suits blame in on video suits, who blame it on the magazine suits, who blame it on and blame it on ... never taking responsibility for how they created a monster as they check in with their bosses, we did good today.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  2. Daniel

    In a new poll by Rasmussen Reports 70 percent of Republicans in Missouri would now vote for Todd Akin. These are the hard core right wing and Tea Party klan that want to enslave us with their self righteous bigoted dogma of hate. I'm quite sure a number of them listen to Rush Limbaugh and For News to get their daily dose of it. It is sad many people who profess to be Christians think that it is Holy to Hate.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • skarphace

      Wrong. According to Rasmussen's newest poll, Akin is now trailing by 10 points, and he was up by 3 points at the end of July.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Daniel

      I was referring to the Republican voting block not the entire voting block. Do some research you will find I'm correct.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  3. dowhatifeellike

    No mention, of course, that he's on the House science committee with an 1852 understanding of biology. The Evangelicals are single-issue voters.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  4. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    Another reason to deny religions tax exempt status.

    They are money machines like any other corporations, robney's personal friends, who he fishes with.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • flushthemall

      Vote Robnme and he will

      August 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Mr Conservative

    The Pope says the pill is a no-no !!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Hahahahahahaha

      Well then he should quit taking it then! Hahahahahaha

      August 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  6. Jesuit

    Akin's and his so called conservative christians profane Christianity. Dogma and hate that,s all they have. Pity them.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Xtianity profanes xtianity. It is a cult of blood sacrifice that has outlived its usefulness.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • ViK100

      I guess you support killing babies too.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "I guess you support killing babies too."

      I support the choice for people to do with their body what they want. And a baby is not the same thing as an embryo or fetus.

      Life begins when born, not conceived.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  7. flushthemall

    Please remember after this candidate is re-affirmed to be a GOP favorite in MO, when your rights are being measured against "God's will", at least it will be a 'balanced' Christian approach and not those crazy Muslim extremists, uh huh.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  8. Tony

    If you just read the headline ("Conservative Christians rally around Akin in face of GOP criticism"), you'd think the article would contain a long list of people rallying around him. But the article only mentions one, and then mentions that the overwhelming majority are distancing themselves. Reporting 101 FAIL by Cnn.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • blaqb0x

      This is "AMERCIA", there are too many conservative christians to name in one article.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Michael

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  10. Mark from SA

    Maybe the Fundamentalists are finally starting to wake up. They are just a tool that the GOP uses to get votes. The GOP would never actually outlaw abortion. When you have a bunch of one issue voters that come out for you, and you solve their issue, guess what? They don't come out and vote for you anymore. They don't have to vote for anyone else, just stay home to change the balance of power. Think about it. They had a friendly President, the House, the Senate, and a stacked SCOTUS that just awarded the Presidency to Bush via court ruling, and they had that all from 2000-2006. If abortion wasn't outlawed then, then, when?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mark: "The GOP would never actually outlaw abortion."

      I do not believe this to be true at all. I fully believe that when they control the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, you will see the 'personhood' amendment passed and upheld by the courts, which would overturn Roe vs Wade once and for all.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Episcopal Layman

      @skarphace

      Did you read Mark's post? He described exactly such a situation (GOP president, Senate, and House and Conservative SCOTUS), starting in 1992. He's right–if the GOP ever actually outlawed abortion, all the single-issue anti-choice voters in their base would be left with nothing to motivate them to vote.

      In 1984, The Party used Emmanuel Goldstein and the "Two-Minute Hate" to rally the proles around opposition to a common enemy. The Religious Right does the same thing today, but they use Obama and the "Sunday Morning Sermon."

      August 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  11. skarphace

    If you are a Republican and you do not support their agenda to make abortions illegal in every single case without exception, then I have only one question for you:

    Why the heck do you keep voting these religious zealots into office?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      hmmmm....i dunno, maybe because there are other issues to take in consideration other than abortion?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • skarphace

      religion: I did not ask why you keep voting for Republicans in general. I asked why you keep voting for the extreme religious zealots in your party. To them, there is no greater issue than abortion.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  12. virginia

    Akin is a good man, he is prolife, all who is conceived....has being give the right to a chance to life...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Michael

      Try again in English.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @virginia

      I'm half expecting to hear a parrot squak whenever you talk.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Ed

      Judging by your mastery of english, I'm not surprised you support Akin.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • kenchandammit

      Virginia, you are the PERFECT spokesperson for your position! (Holycrapalmighty...)

      August 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Athy

      Holy shit, Batman, yet another fifth-grader practicing her "English".

      August 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Al

    Akin should be set a drift and left to drown, his words have and will hurt the political cause to restore and save this country. I will always vote for the party that allows and encourages people to do for themselves, but in this case I would not provide Akin with any water if he was burning up, he does not deserve it for his selfishness to stay in the race and not bow out for his remarks. This will hurt Romney and many other officials that are running.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  14. Marc

    Keep your religion out of my government!!!! REPUBLICAN RULE = SHARIA LAW.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  15. mikeydon1969

    Christian Republican men are the most un-Christ-like people on the Planet. Talk about a bad joke....

    August 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  16. leftisrightandrightiswrong

    Reading this article and some of the subsequent comments only served to reinforce what I have always said. THERE IS NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN A RELIGIOUS ZEALOT. Religious zealots tend to deny unquestionable facts and sane reasoning, all while they attempt to impose their often backwards thinking on others. And regardless of what religion these zealots worship, they are in effect terrorists because they seek to eradicate all other beliefs and silence any opinions that do not support their own beliefs.

    And one other thing; Why is it that religious zealots always make a priority of going after women's rights & freedoms?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  17. virginia

    Support Akin support prolife...its worth the effort...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  18. kenchandammit

    So... All you gennelmen out thar, rememmer this: if ye're out somewhar and you see yerself some yung thang whar she hain't s'pose to be, (like outside o' the house, ferg zample), and she goes on an' gits herself raiped by you, y'all jus' remember that, if'n she don't git herself nawked up the furst time, it'll be in yer best innerest if y'all keep goin' back fer another go 'round 'til it takes hold. Thataway's, you can proov that she wanted it and she cain't do nuttin' to ya's. Good luck, now, and go gitcha some!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  19. virginia

    The republican party support prolife, family & marriage, Religion, economic prosperity....they support and protect all that make america great....vote Republican, Mitt Romney...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL that's a lot of fail.
      They support anti-abortion not pro-life.
      They support the control of who marries who
      They support only their own religion
      They support economic prosperity for the top 1% and say screw everyone else.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • mig

      The Republican party supports no health care,wars that kill millions,welfare for oil companies,loopholes for the wealthy,cuts to education,social security and medicare,and no gun control.Th party of family values?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Athy

      Virginia, it would be a lot easier to take your posts seriously if you would write like a grownup. Go back to about the seventh grade and start over.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      virginia, dear, if you're Romney and Ryan's best hope, they're doomed. Nobody reading a post like yours would want anything to do with candidates you support.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  20. mig

    I haven't seen anything like the current Republican party since last time I watched a Three Stoodges movie.Only the Stoogdes were just acting.God help us if they take over this country.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • ob

      "if?" They already do run the country. They control the money which is how you control power.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:48 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.