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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. Albert Leo

    Why is it that all the comments about abortion are from men?

    August 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Universal Law

      ...because men are the rapists

      August 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Janis

      Because the issue is more about control and hate of a woman exercising freedom over her own body then it is about life.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Leza

      It's easier for someone who can just drop a load and have no further contribution to tell those that end up doing all the work what they should and shouldn't do with their bodies. Men can't actually carry, birth and use their bodies to nourish children, therefore they should have NO say in what can be done with the aforementioned body.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  2. Jeff in Cincy

    "claiming that women’s bodies can prevent contraception in such cases"

    What?? This is the 3rd grade writting class of CNN again. Shouldn't it be "conception", not "contraception"???

    August 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jeff in Cincy

      Make that "writing"... Duh... Guess I graduated from their class!!!

      August 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  3. Wes Scott

    The GOP has never truly supported conservative causes. Even when they had the White House (George W) and both Houses of Congress the GOP never even introduced, much less voted on, any bill banning abortion, allowing prayer in school, banning gay marriage or any other of the wedge issues they use to attract a certain mentally deranged segment of the population to their side by pretending to defend those things that are important to Christian conservatives.

    Fortunately for the GOP, Christian conservatives do not believe in education and just are not intelligent enough to realize that the GOP is only using them to gain power so that they can implement policies that benefit the Top 5% at the exclusion of the rest of America, Christian conservatives included. It would be funny if it were not so sad, and if it did not affect Americans other than Christian conservative.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  4. Tanto

    double standard, designed to drive out social conservatives... About time, for the GOP's survival as fiscally conservative party.

    Someone said this morning, the GOP a gift that keeps giving... I concur.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  5. CACkle

    This just points out how ridiculous the Republican Party is. The economy, the one message they which could swing the election in their favor and what are they talking about – abortion rights.

    Vulture/Voucher 2012 THE LOSER TEAM

    August 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  6. DDW 1946

    I just don't know what to say, other than Akin is a religious zealot. If the christian right get control of the government, every right we have will eventually be gone. Oh, except the right to carry arms.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • skarphace

      Too late.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      ". Oh, except the right to carry arms"

      Um, I have no right to carry my firearm in public.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  7. @GuileOfTheGods

    So what's "socially conservative" or "Christ-like" about punishing victims of ra-pe? Shouldn't the "good Christians" condemn attackers and try to help the victims instead of punishing them?

    August 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tanto

      Don't they always say: hate the sin, love the sinner? Let's love us some of them guys...

      August 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Universal Law

      It is the so called "men christian" raping the women and children.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Janis

      There is nothing Christ-like about the policies they want to enact on women. There is also nothing Christ-like about saying if the poor can't help themselves then screw them, of let the sick and uninsured die. These people know nothing of Christ and love. They know everything of hate and greed. I wonder whose will they are really carrying out?

      August 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Love this!

    Excerpted from aboveLand 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."

    Paraphrased: He's only been saying what we've been saying all along, but he's srewing up the election. Throw him under the bus – the end justifies the means.

    Good old Republican thinking in action!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  9. ProFreedom

    All this boils down to is you are trying to tell American's that they cannot have a certain medical procedure because you don't like it based on your religion.
    This is America, if you are against freedom you don't belong here.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  10. Jesus was a hunchback

    Jesus would hate these people.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  11. High Way

    If they get it their way with women then the next thing they will do is probably make it a crime if sodamy is suspected or practiced.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  12. skarphace

    Teavangelicals want to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us, but then they go and support a Mormon for President?

    This, I truly will never understand: how the Republicans convinced its base that Mormons are Christians.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  13. WASP

    let's give these people what they are wanting, less government ok deal

    when your mother/sister/cousin/daughter gets r/a/p/ed by some ass, remember you want her to give birth to that child because "GOD" made that baby and don't expect a dime from the governement to help with that "love child" seeing you want the governement to "stay out of your life".........but it's ok if they mess with everyone else based on your idea of "GOD" and what you think is right and just in fairy land.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    See prayer save a dogs life at saladandchips.com.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • WASP

      @prayer doesn't do crude: ROFLMFAO..................if prayer worked you wouldn't be here.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Janis

      Religion is not good for anyone, and in fact it has killed more people than anything else on Earth. One does not have to be an Atheist in order to not beleive in religion. There are many choices out there for people's beliefs. Let's give them the FREEDOM to decide what they want to believe. Shall we?

      August 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  15. BDM

    Even a nitwit can find fellow nitwits to stand by him for a stupid cause (aka selfish pride).

    August 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  16. us_1776

    Akin and his buddy Ryan are Poster Boys for what is wrong with the GOP.

    .

    August 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  17. mompop404

    Some people talk as if they would love to have a baby by a rapist

    August 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      That's because it is the ONLY way conservatives can find "love."

      August 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Janis

      No, what they are saying is they would love YOU to have a child by a rapist.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"That's because it is the ONLY way conservatives can find "love.""

      –" Minnesota state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, Democrat lawmaker involved in a rest-stop se'xual encounter with a 17-year-old boy says he won't run for re-election after all."

      Seems that maybe the New Jersey Turnpike is the only way for Democrats to find love. :D

      August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  18. RainCityLady

    Oh, poor, poor Akin. Boo hoo. If you say something stupid, you have to own it and expect consequences. One of his idiot supporters says it's vicious? No, what was vicious was what Akin said in the first place. Is the GOP TRYING to shoot itself in the foot? Or are they THAT misogynistic?

    August 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  19. noteasilyswayed

    The GOP is showing its true colors in this; it will be very interesting to see how they try to cover up these rifts at the convention..... women in particular have a lot to lose if they vote Republican in this election.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  20. skarphace

    If you normally claim that the 'government' is not to be trusted and should not have a say in our personal lives, but then claim that the 'government' should be able to make decisions regarding pregnancy for women, then you must be a 'Christian Conservative'.

    Hypocrites of the highest order, are they. Just ask Jesus.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:09 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.