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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. Mormon Magical Underwear

    ROMNEY can take his Mormon Magical Underwear back to Utah,conservative christians wont vote for a Anti Christian who thinks his skidmarked Underwear has Magical Powers..........IDK Why mormons think their SKIDMARKS protect them from evil.........sickening just like their polygamist molesting religion......

    August 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  2. New Gawker

    So much for the lie that he's an anomaly among the GOP. Many of the believe this utter nonsense he spewed out.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  3. flatbushfred

    The Tea party fundamentalists aka Republicans need to decide what type of government they envision for America: a democracy or a theocracy. By courting the Christian right-wingers and the Catholic bishops into the GOP base, they are clearly focused on the latter. The voters will decide whether they want clerics deciding the lives of women, and the extent of personal freedom for everyone who are not "believers." Think of the GOP as an American Taliban, and decide who you should vote for.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Janis

      They have already decided they want a theocracy for us, and a democracy for themselves.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Janice, so you're another atheist that disagrees with George Washington, the first president of the USA? Go to read his farewell address to the nation.

      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Washington%27s_Farewell_Address

      Pay close attention to what he had to say about Religion, morality, and education.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Roger

      George Washington became an idolized person in U S history and much of the history about him was blown out of proportion or was false. You might want to read our const.itution instead, you know the part about separation of church and state.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • truth be told

      there is nothing in our consti tution stating a separation between church and state. Those words do not appear anywhere in the const itution.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Observer

      truth be told,

      There is NOTHING in our Const-tution that mentions God, Jesus, Christ, Christiainity or the Bible.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Huh?

      The First Amendment guarantees the principle of the separation of church and state – by implication, because separating church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  4. Ticktockman0

    Todd Akin is one of the great thinkers from the Bronze Age alive today. It is therefore no surprise that Tony Perkins and other like-minded "social conservatives" stand behind him. If the GOP collectively had the courage of its convictions, Akin would be front and center at the convention.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  5. TommyTT

    The real issue is not the "soul of America." The real issue is people who really want to be led by someone who is a science ignoramus. The GOP wants the vote of these ignoramus-followers. It has cultivated them for years and allowed them to sway Republican policy on a number of issues. But now, with a presidential election coming up, the GOP wants to hide them. That's going to be very hard to do, because the ignoramus wing has been empowered for so many years that they don't want to hide. And it's just as well. America needs to see how the party that falsely claims Obama is far left has actually moved so far right they can't even see the center any more.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Chad

    are atheists predominately liberal because they are atheists, or atheists because they are predominately liberal?

    August 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Fellow Ozians

      GLINDA(spoken): Are people born Wicked? Or do they have
      Wickedness thrust upon them? After all, she had
      a father. She had a mother, as so many do:

      August 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Tim

      Third factor seems to be associated with both atheist beliefs and liberalism, increased intelligence.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Observer

      It might be because they are smart.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      don't think about that too long, Chad, or you'll end up with that debilitating HeavenSent Syndrome.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think atheists are properly skeptical Chad. Liberal is a term I associated with inclusiveness, compassion, a desire for an ordered society that is also tolerant and encourages free expression... Some atheists go for that. Some don't.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Athy

      It's because they are significantly smarter. Many studies bear this out.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:10 am |
  7. dmnewsi

    Reblogged this on dmnewsi.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  8. gop usa

    Romney is nothing but a cowardly Mormon that cant stand up for what he and his party believes in.Instead he cowers and goes along with the outcry even though it goes against his beliefs,or at least this is what his position was.Romney is a cultist for the Mormon churchg and does not like conservative christians,he just needs their vote.Romney hopes that us conservatives will sell out our faith and beliefs to support a waxckjob cult bishop who is not a christian. Mormons who believe in bigotry,polygamy,molestation of women and children does not belong in office.As a christian conservative I can tell you most of us hate Romney for being a cult Bishop and will stay home on election day,we wont support the pervert cultist!!!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  9. LIsaM

    Jim

    "Not one right-wing redneck Republican has ever adopted an unwanted black baby."

    OUCH, harsh but true, Jim, harsh but true.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  10. Brian

    Was the Boston strangler a "legitimate" rapist? Maybe one of you faith based, conservative Republicans could answer this question.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  11. michael

    GOP stands for lying hypocrites

    August 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • old ben

      ouch. that's a low blow to people who are just hypocrites

      August 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  12. michael

    well said tim. they have no real concern for people just their ideology

    August 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  13. Nikki

    The republican party should be ashamed that Romney threw a christian candidate under the bus.Romney has no problem doing this because he does not respect christian or their beliefs.... Romney is nothing but a cultist that will not hesitate to screw christians over....

    August 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Hahahahahahaha

      So vote democrat then. Hahahahahaaha

      August 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Well, some felt that Oba threw Hillary Clinton under the bus for a Catholic. What's the point?

      August 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • The Guy

      Akin threw himself under the bus, jack a$s.

      You think the principal of a multi-billion a year corporation and successful governor is going to get caught up in backing a mis-educated fool from the bible belt? Obama would have done the same thing in his place. The situation isn't about political party, it's frankly about being a human being capable of thought.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  14. Jim

    I love the comment that he should " . . . throw himself on his shield." I believe the saying is "throw himself on his sword."

    August 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • azDave

      Contrary to what you may believe, "throw himself on his shield" is perfectly valid as well. That's how the Romans carried their dead off the battleground .... on their shield. Seems appropriate enough here to me.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Mike

    Anyone that backs Akin is just as ignorant and shouldn't be in a position of power. If a leader can't deal with reality... we've got some serious logic problems that require someone who is mentally capable. It's inappropriate to misrepresent opinion as facts to the public. Especially when the opinion is so seriously flawed that no serious doctor would ever back Akin's statements without being laughed out of the medical field for incompetence.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  16. mig

    Sure,lets let every little cell become an unwanted possibly abused or abandoned being who can look forward to a life without health-care,servitude to the fabulously rich,to die in wars about bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction,and end up homeless,sick with no health-care,or in the prison system run by Republican"entrepeneurs".I'd rather not be born!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"...who can look forward to a life"

      To Pro-Life that is the basis of their view. Its a life. It could be a horrible one like you have proposed or it could be a great life.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  17. m

    Go AKIN – Sock the GOPers

    August 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  18. Dennis

    Thanks right wing Republicans, the Democratic Senator from Missouri is going to win reelection!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  19. Tim

    GOP'ers are not pro-life, they are pro-birth. After the babies are born they have no concern for their lives or well being.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • jude

      Tim, your absolutely right. They worship the fetus, but kick the actual child to the curb.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jim

      Not one right-wing redneck Republican has ever adopted an unwanted black baby.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  20. Brehon21

    Maybe they can drop trou and take a dip in the sacred waters of the Sea of Galilee like one of their colleagues did during the lobbyist paid for alcohol fueled junket to the Holy Land. Do a lot of praying and reflecting. Hypocrites.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:17 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.