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.
M has a good point – Republicans have been doing this for many years. They pretend to be the voice for the religious right but then after they are elected issues like abortion rights get no action from them. Hey guess what? The party of the rich has been lying to you all along and they will continue to lie to you as long as you vote for them. GOP voters = FOOLS.
The state of Missouri is full of good people that will back up this guy. He is a moron. What they don't realise that farm people and city people have vastly different lives. People that live in the city can be exceedingly burdened by an unwanted child. They don't have the support system that people provide in small cities and farm communities. Your neighbor looks out for you in the country. Not in the city, most people don't know their neighbor and are more isolated. This causes problems of real concern for unwanted children. They are left to fend for themselves on the street, be locked in closets, maybe they are fed only when the woman can find a job or somewhere to eat. Jobs are hard to come by and gardens are nonexistent. I grew up in the country and I now live in the city and I see this stuff. People in Missouri have big families and they look out for each other (MOSTLY) . I wish the rest of the world were like that. Life outside Missouri does not reflect life elswhere. I think you should select another person that is a little more enlightened.
Rural areas have plenty of social problems. I would argue they "look out for children." Plenty of horrific child abuse cases come out from the country. To say the country is some idyllic area and the cities are polar opposites is grossly outdated
"We haven't seen anything this vicious since some of the same operatives did this to (Sarah) Palin.”
I know... poor Sarah was so mistreated by the media and those horrible Democrats. Luckily the GOP will make up for it and show how supportive they are of her by giving her a prime speaking slot at the Conv....
Oh wait. Never mind.
I cannot WAIT for this convention... maybe that Hurricane will blow in and strand them all on the roof for 5 days while Heckuva a Job Brownie mounts the rescue efforts.
What a bunch of rubes!
The future of American politics seems increasingly likely to be a 3-party system, but not the one some people would have liked.
What we're going to have are the Dems – representing progressive thought, science and humanism. The Repubs – representing business, military and reactionary concerns. And some sort of religious party who will border on fascism, Taliban-like social control and faith-based violence to promulgate their views.
Have a good look around the world and spend a few years studying history. Then choose carefully.
Excellent observation Julie, I think you're absolutely correct. It becomes clearer every election cycle that the establishment Republicans , the evangelical christians and Tea Party factions are finding it difficult to get along, to align behind one agenda, one message. Their mutual ha tred for all things Obama will keep them together for this election but I suspect we will see a further split during the 2014 mid term election cycle.
Akin is typical of what the GOP is evolving into. Extremists who don't believe in compromise. Crazies.
I am enjoying this.
I don't agree with anything that Akin said or stands for, but you got to give him this. He did not bow down to the GOP. And now the GOP are very mad and angry because he would not do what they wanted him to do. He did not stop when "they" said stop and how dare a Republican not fallow his bosses and instead stand up for what he believes in.
GOP are bullies even to their own.
The problem is Akin had the audacity to articulate what the official Republican Party Platform has become. Add to that Akin has defied the party bosses and the Presumptive candidate and his running mate, thus undermining the authority of the same Party bosses. Because they can no longer hope this issue slides under the radar, this can result in a number of scenarios.
1. The Evangelicals stay home rather than rewarding the Republican party with their votes on Election Day as a result of throwing Akin to the wolves. This is the process known as "Cutting off their noses to spite their faces." A common practice among the Evangelical Christians when they know their cause is doomed.
2. The Moderates get turned off by the Party Platform and decide to return to their parent's Democratic Party roots in enough districts to return control of Congress to the Democrats, and eliminate the threat of Republican Filibuster in the Senate. This can also be assisted by option 1 above.
And the angst on conservative talk radio about the Akins story is almost palpable. Of course they're take on it is to blame Democrats for not letting the story die. Boo hoo, remember Anthony Weiner? The right rode that pony til it dropped over dead. Some guy was on Limbaugh whining about CNN running the story "day after day". Mercy? No way jerks.
The GOP followers of Akin don't surprise me. They mistakenly believe that by "forgiving" (just about anyone for anything) that they are following the teachings of Jesus. And while I am not a Christian (or any other organized religion) I do believe that Christ was on earth, he gave the Romans a lot of trouble and paid for it, but his teachings, if we believe what we read, were sound. I don't believe for one minute that the followers of Akin are believing true to what Christ taught. If that were the case, our prisons (the most executions happen in southern prisons, TX and FL in particular) would be empty of "forgiven" people. What they need to worry about is that Akin is not very bright.
Keep on truckin' Akin! We need more Christian conservatives like you in office so we can finally start reclaiming this great nation in the name of God!
God is not pleased with the GOP, so your rantings about what he should think or do are wasted words. You are a racist, you hate women, and you aren't rich. That is why you said what you did. We don't need any more "religion" controlling America! That is why we are in a pickle now. Thank GWB for that, the world's # i narcissist next to the Syrian prez.
I hear banjoes
You forgot to backspace through your misspelled moniker after you looked up the spelling of Patriot. Unless, of course, you stutter
Forget about separation church and state? Forget about freedom of and from religion? Apparently you know nothing about your own country and who the founders were. You live in a SECULAR country, not a CHRISTARD country. If you wish to live in a theocracy, try ISLAM. Don't want your freedom's taken away, then don't take away those of anyone else!!! Keep your buybull and church out of the public square, people's bedrooms and the government!!!
And which precepts of American value will you be voting for liar prevails? Oh that's right, none, you don't live here, you contribute nothing to our country . How is your life as a pretend American? There's your sign.
Yippeeee! Hallelujah, praise the lord!! The heck with taking this country back, back to the days of the founders like the Tea Party wants to do, lets take it all the way back to biblical times!! Praise the lord! Somebody find me some snakes.
CA: And what part of we're your countries largest ally have you failed to understand??? Freedom of speech goes a long way and what affects you, affects us...so if you can't handle the truth and you can't handle freedom of speech, you should go to a country that tolerates your ignorance. WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE</B?
It is not a national issue, you are an ass hole plain and simple.You would be an ass hole if you lived in Peru.There's your sign.
One more thing CA...I contribute every day to your country...Whenever I shop at Subway or WalMart or Target...some of that money goes directly back to your country...so suck it up and learn to stay on topic...this isn't about who lives where, this about some religitard dictating basic human rights!!!
CA: IT'S A HUMAN ISSUE AND JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T GIVE A RATS ASS ABOUT YOUR FELLOW MAN, DOESN'T MEAN I DON'T!!!
I've read your posts you are a self important bully and an unbearable ass hole, plain and simple we do not need your phony "care" and since you are seeking affirmation here it is unlikely anyone there wants to put up with your sh it either. There's your sign.
Akin is an idiot. The "conservative Christians" supporting him are judged by this. Where is that comet I have been waiting for??
motherhood has been a cruel form of opression all through history it uses the love that a woman has towards her children to keep her from doing a lot of things including competeng with males in a lot of activities and now that women have the power of choice to not give their life to care for another life conservative feel treatend and that is why they cling to their stupid religions ... is a war against women...
Oh Lord, please protect us from your so called followers!!!
I am amazed how these so called christians can support a party whose policies are so unchristian as they relate to the treatment of the poor and disadvantaged.
I guess its hip to be stupid now.If you sound smart or informed you must be a commie.I can't believe anyone would stand with this guy.
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Just what he needed, a thick protective coating of idiots.
I'd be interested to find out how many anti-abortion activists are also members of the NRA? The NRA is 'anti-life', simple and plain. Who hunts animals using banana-clips and assault rifles? Most libs are at odds with the NRA, yet are pro-choice. One protects those on the front-end of life, the other the back-end. But look at it this way; one choice effects one individual's rights, while the other protects everyone's life. We don't have 'mass-abortions' due to a lone, derranged OBGYN. At least I haven't heard of it happening since I emerged from my rock.
anyone rallying for this twit is a full on moron undeserving of ANY respect since they obviously don't respect others. His comments were unforgivable and show a horrid concept and separation from reality.
Part of the problem is that some people believes that apologizing for it willl fix it. What they don't understand is that this guy really believes and supports what he said, and will continue to do so. But an apology is supposed to magically make that better.
I'm more than happy to rally for this twit. Todd Akin is an unexpected windfall for the Democratic party. He has the potential to do real damage to the repubs at both the local and national level. Run Todd, Run!!!
Whatever happened to "judge not, least you be judged?"
That would require that these Christians actually read the book they praise so much....fat chance
Hey Scot. I don't forgive azzholes that spout BS. Yours included.
Here's the problem for the GOP. They've spent much time and effort courting religious conservatives, knowing full well that what some of these people want is so extreme that it would scare off centrist voters. Therefore, the Republicans have shied away from openly talking about what the religious folks want while at the same time winking and nodding at these folks so they know they're going to be taken care of. Todd Akin blew the lid off this little arrangement by openly talking about what he wants to do if he's elected. This frightened party leaders, who immediately threw him under the bus. This has angered the religious conservatives, who are probably wondering who the party really values most: them or more moderate voters.
Ad that really is an important question. The GOP is trying to court both groups, so, no matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, you have to wonder who's getting played, because someone certainly is.
What did Akin say he wanted to do if elected? He made a stupid statement.
Parent of 6 – Akin and Ryan have co-authored bills (PLURAL) to limit women's rights, and as a sitting member of the science committee he has proven himself to be unworthy of our trust on these matters.
I don't understand these "New Republicans" at all. I have been a proud democrat all my life. Despite that I crossed party lines and voted for Regan. At the time I believed he was best for the country, and I still believe that to this day. These folks in the GOP now??? I have no idea what planet they fell from. Quite frankly I think the Taliban is more liberal than most Republicans now. Most of these folks are just lunitics. Why don't the republicans just go ahead and nominate a taliban member and get it over with.
there's a reason he made a 'stupid' statement.
It was an off the cuff remark – which are usually 100% true because they are unscripted. We can assume that this is his true self. He is stupid.
Even jesus wouldn't claim these miscreants as christians.
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.