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.
Pathetic. The mindless support is scary. Single issue, anti-women so called "Christian conservatives" need to stop drinking kool aid and try to broaden their sadly limited horizon. They are little better than the Taliban.
If you promise not to pray in my school, I promise not to think in your church.
Support Akin = Support Life except in the case of legitimate r@pe as there will be no conception because a woman's body has a way of 'shutting the whole thing down'.
So you liberal nuts remember, we don't need your extremist socialist views which condone abortion, we need more r@pe which will result in a satisfied perpetrator, a legitimate recipient AND no unwanted pregnancies.
1) Force the child to be born
2) Refuse food stamps for his nutritional needs
3) Refuse to fund Pre-K programs to get the child up to speed.
5) Slash school lunches
4) Cut school funding
5) Cut after school programs
6) Cut scholarships for college
7) Cut scared straight programs
8) Cut community center programs
9) Cut drug intervention programs
10) cut gang intervention programs
Congratulations. You now have a gang member who has likely already killed. When he's caught, I guess it's NOW O.K. to kill him, huh?
Thank you for pointing out the exact anti family values hypocracy the GOP supports.
Well put! Those on the Right just can't (or won't ) understand your analogy, but you are spot on.
The Old, Poor, Sick people will need it. You know.......The people Jesus loves.
"soul of America" really who appointed "anointed' the mythical believers to speak on behalf of the educated and literate of the U.S. ?
"The great Reverend Grant Storm – convicted of obscenity for public masturbation.
More of the "same old, same old" ."..............
After the Swaggart scandal a psychologist specializing in religion said that the randy part of the brain is right next to the religious part of the brain and the two often overlap.
How I wish that Huntsman had been nominated. I actually considered becoming a Republican to vote for that guy. However, I knew he was too good to be true, and to sane to get the nomination.
Agree. Huntsman was the only chance the Republicans had, and they were too dumb to realize it. I supported President Obama in 2008, but Huntsman (for his brief time in the race) made me think twice. Now, it's Obama all the way. All that is left on the Right are the nut jobs and the rich kid bully, who has to be told what to stand for. No thanks!
Romney is flip flopper,so many times he held the same beliefs on abortion,then he switched back and forth......I am a repub who is not voting for Romney because he cannot be trusted.Romney wants to destroy medicare,veterans benefits,and the middleclass. I also know Romney is a cult member for the church of Mormon and he has no core christian beliefs. Romney has lost the conservative christian vote and I hope all of those christians who considered voting for him realize that selling out your faith to a cultist is not the way to go.Romney does not respect christianity and Worships Joesoph Smith the Mormon Messiah who was a child molester and Murderer,polygamist..............We do not want anyone representing us christians who belive in the wodrs of a molester as gods word. The repub parrty really screwed up by having a Mormon cultist as our candidate.....
>>>"Romney is flip flopper,so many times he held the same beliefs on abortion,then he switched back and forth......"
You mean like for 3.5 years Obama said over and over that he was against Gay marriage... then when he needs the votes... he changes his view... That is flipflopping.
No Mark. It's called wising up. Something the the GOP can't figure out. Hahahaahhahaha
It's not flip flopping. The Mormon Church has been very successful in 'educating' the flock on the benefits of 'changing ones outlook' – after all it wasn't that long ago when they espoused the belief in a black colored skin being the mark of satan and enough reason to ban all dark skin persons from the 'flock'. Luckily, those with dark skin showed they too could contribute 10% and were then judged to be 'acceptable' in the flock. Flip Flop, nah just enlightened thinking yah!
What's the difference between Sharia law and Conservative Christian law? Except for beheadings, not much at all.
Beheadings to follow shortly...
Actually stoning will come first! IMO
It is stoning in Christian Law.
Akin's hasn't embarrassed the party enough that we now actually have other Republicans coming out in support of, what he even admits, was a lie? I used to be a Republican, but I just haven't been Nazified enough to support this rubbish. On the other hand, I haven't been carrying a picture of Chairman Mao long enough to be admitted to the Democratic party either.
It's beyond understanding, isn't it? Just flabbergasting.
That would be the Socialist Party 40 years ago, Don. The Dem Party, even the most left-wing members, never supported Mao. Get real.
If you're stupid enough to think the Democrats are actually communists, you should rejoin with the Republicans. When it comes to intelligence, you should feel right at home.
All I can say is "Thank you, God for giving humanity the Buddha!"
Its the Christian women that are keeping the aboration clinics open. They use them more than any other group.
The pragmatists in the party like Rove, Preibus, Romney want Akin to drop out. They only care about putting the seat in the Republican column and having someone rubber stamp their agenda. But isn't Democracy about having people who stand by their convictions represent us. I hope he stays in the race.
you are a fool
The GOP knows that their economic philosophy does not benefit the majority of their own voters, let alone the majority of americans, so they use the hot button issues like abortion to rile up their base, but this time, one of their own has put his big foot in his mouth and the GOP is running scared. The democrats should now try to tie as many GOP congressmen and senators as possible to Mr. Akins stand on abortion.
If you think the Reverend Wright ads were "interesting," wait until after the conventions when Akins is featured along with what other GOP candidates said about Romney in the debates.
Romney turns himself into a oretzel trying to expain why Romneycare was good but Obamacare is bad.
Talk about misguided. Social conservative translates to those folks that aren't satisifed being God's sheep, they want his job as judge.
Romney: "While I don't agree with everything they said, I like to have it both ways, so I am today announcing that "judge" Head will be my Sec of Defense and Rep. Akins my Sec of HHS. Of course the administration's policies will be mine alone, because like VP Ryan the are just lackeys appointed to appease the GOP base that for some reason hasn't really warmed to me. i have asked each of them to show me two years of income tax returns–they can pick the years. God bless."
GOP is finally coming 360, realizing that Akin was just saying whats in their party platform. If he's just stating their beliefs, they should hold him up as a "legitimate" hero.
All I can do is shrug and agree. They don't like the backlash, so they have to front, but it's pretty much the platform.
the GOP is not coming around. This is the religious right (the American Taliban) defending one of their own.
The RNC whips are trying to keep the politicians in line before the election and not spo0k the electorate. Todd Akins is now beyond the pale. He won't get any money for ads from the RNC commissars now.
It is very telling for a person running for the Senate to espouse fact/truth challenged medieval views in this day and time. You get what you vote for. Hope you are overjoyed with the result.
Akins is in the best tradition if the Bachmann-Santorum-Perry GOP. They should embrace him; only political reality is holding them back.
The great Reverend Grant Storm – convicted of obscenity for public masturbation.
More of the "same old, same old" .
I think these people need to get the logs out of their own eyes first.
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.