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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. ArthurP

    Nuc the convention from space, it's the only way to be sure.

    (apologizes to Aliens)

    August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  2. David T.

    "Keep Religion out of our Government" it causes "Wars & Conflicts" just keep in your own house not the "White House"?????

    August 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  3. Tino

    There are two great evils in this world... religion and politics. The are the reason for wars... and the hatred that exists in the world. Religion does not promote peace as it says, it promotes hatred and division. Politics does represent the majority, it represents the minority fringe who yell the loudest and have the most money to buy power. Unfortunately they are interchangable now.

    You want to promote peace... listen to others, even if they have different viewpoints. You want to fix the country... don't talk about how crazy the "other side" is and say "I'm right, they are wrong" and close your mind to other opinions. Listen... learn... love... just like the figures you pretend to worship actually did!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Tino

      that should be "politics does NOT represent the majority"...

      August 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"They are the reason for wars... "

      That might be true if you did not have Canada and other countries, including our own, are planning to strengthen their Northern Navy's to stake their claims in the melting mineral rich Arctic.

      Killing for Resources has always trumped the advances of Faith and Religion.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  4. W.G.

    akin is a guy that is insensitive to the people around him unless you´re from the 10th century if conservative Christians are rallying around him then maybe they´re not so christian after all .

    August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  5. Adam

    The Republicans should throw social conservatives out of the party. They are the most un-"Republican" bunch of people in the party. This minority of people want to tell (and the government to legislate) how the vast majority of people live their lives. Most of us want the government to stay out of our lives. If they want to live by their beliefs that is fine just don't tell me how to live.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  6. Pat

    "they" are a very scary disgusting group AND the main reason I will vote democrat no matter the nominee – I figure if a republican gets into office the social agenda that no one wants to "talk" about (instead stating the conversation shld. be economy)will suddendly become social and this country becomes a worse nightmare than it already is – he will appt. federal judges and one or maybe two supreme ct. justices – soon everyone will be required to go to church (except, of course, muslims!), carry a gun, eat meat, hunt animals that are endangered and in particular drill baby drill – thankfully I live in Calif. and I suppose we would erect a fence to keep the wackos out!

    August 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  7. notraitors

    Yeah, he made a dumb comment, and yeah he should drop out. But let's move on to something else, shall we? Like the millions out of work and the stagnant economy

    August 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Richard

    I've heard the congressman apologize and say he "mis-spoke". I have yet to hear him say what it was he ment to say instead. Waiting..........

    August 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam

      He meant what he said; he believes it, and he's not alone. His apology amounts to "I'm sorry some of you are offended."

      August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  9. tardsarestupid

    Time to bring the Romans and the lions back to finish up what they started 2k years ago. When the civil war starts the first group to take out will be these religious fruitcakes. Spare no mercy. When they are gone the world can start working on peace. But the fuctardicans have to be annihilated first. A systematic and formal plan for genocide of the fuctardicans should be proposed. It is the only cure.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  10. streetdude66

    Show me someone who supports a cold blooded baZt@rd like Akin & I'll show you a whackjob

    August 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  11. SPARKY

    you know they're turning this into a "pro-life" issue..........people make me sick

    August 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Horus

      It IS a pro-life issue..... that's the reason Akin made the comments he did – he was supporting a pro-life position (with debunked pseudo science).

      August 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  12. W.G.

    How could conservative Christians vote for a Mormon and a Catholic ? They must hate Obama more than they
    love JESUS .

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

      Of course they hate Obama. A well spoken, successful, likable half-black president is like super kryptonite to most of them.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Or could be that only those such as Rev Terry Jones see that type of discord between Catholics and Mormons. Mostly only the extremist declare who is and who is not a Christian.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Mark

      Many of the extreme ones are in positions of power, because there's usually a correlation between lack of morals, and religious zealotry, and the less extreme but not in power just follow along like sheep because that's what they are taught to do.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Everyone believes the worst thing in the world is that the other side is in power. You have Dems and Repubs all saying the same things.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  13. ArthurP

    The social conservative base should insist that he gets to speak at the convention. Their views need to be heard. Without sugar coating and straight from the heart with the Bible and God the Father as their guide.

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

      I agree. Give this man a microphone and a soapbox to highlight what the right really stands for (ignorance). Let him speak. Put him on every talk show. The more people see this nonsense debunked the sooner we can rely on reason, not tradition and conjecture.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Nick San Diego

      The problem with that is, that the base gets all fired up, but the Independents are lost and you can;t win an election with just your base.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  14. t3chn0ph0b3

    The sad thing is that venom like this tends to galvanize the fundamentalist base. He may have done the GOP a favor. I guess we won't know until the election.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • PushingBack

      The venom is internal to their party. Most Democrats are on here saying he should still run!

      August 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  15. a slozomby

    please stop calling these people social conservative and use the proper term: religious whackjob.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    August 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Marky Merlot

      Religion destroys a childs mind

      August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      becomes atheism, proof provided in the post by marky wino

      August 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Prayer changes nothing. Here is the scenario. By praying you are asking God to change that which he has already set into motion. For God to hear that and make a change to his divine plan means he was wrong (or unaware) in the first place. So if you are saying prayer works, you are also saying God is fallible or simply not all-knowing.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • aces2jokers

      Prayer is a social placebo.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • tardsarestupid

      Prayer changes nothing. Weapons change everything. When lead penetrates your body let us know how the prayer thing is working out for you..

      August 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  17. Jenna NY

    This isn't about faith. It's about using faith to manipulate and control other people.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The sooner the better Romney/Ryan 2012

      August 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  18. Mass Debater

    The fact is that the conservatives who believe this nonsense, or even the moronic position taken by the personhood amendments, put them squarely in the same camp with other crazies like many PETA supporters who want to criminalize the killing and eating of any animals. Both want to take something that has established laws governing the line between legal and criminal actions and throw away any reason in the name of "how some feel about it". The law says we can kill and eat animals as long as it's done in a safe and humane way, it also says a fertilized egg isn't a human until it reaches 24 weeks. You can have your own opinion and choose not to eat any animals and become a vegan if you want. You can also decide not to abort your fertilized egg if you choose. But as soon as you slap the steak out of someone elses mouth or thrown rocks at a Planned Parenthood, you have crossed the line in America and you are now the criminal regardless of how you "feel" about it.

    If you think eating animals is murder, or if you feel abortion before 24 weeks is murder, thats fine, but leave your feelings at home along with your buckets of cow blood you planned on throwing at people who don't share your "feelings".

    Just keep that in mind as you head off to your next planned parenthood picket line, you and PETA have far more in common than you might think.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Mass Debater

      Well said.

      Peace...

      August 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Darw1n

      Who let this reasonable and intelligent person in here?

      August 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Horus

      Excellent points.....

      August 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      You have beautifully articulated the issue.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  19. MarkCali

    Akin is an idiot...but is this really news worthy around the USA? Or should voters in his home state simply vote him out, and the rest of us should care less?

    Let's move on to more important stories other than over analyzing this idiot's view...

    August 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Marcia

      It is newsworthy when you consider that this man was on the HOUSE Science committee - with such a limited & closed mind – how could he possibly help this country's direction in future science needs? Very depressing

      August 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • longtooth

      It's about a lot more than a state election. It's about control of the Senate. This guy has caused a huge division in the republican party, just days before their convention. As an independent, I'm fascinated.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • TonyK

      ANYTHING a congressman or woman says is of huge national import! These are the people that make our NATIONAL laws, for goodness sake! A civics lesson is in order here, I think.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • tardsarestupid

      This as hole is the definition of the fuctardicans and is a danger to the intelligent civilized world. He should be eliminated.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  20. NanH

    No need to worry about the RNC, fortunately they are their own worst enemies:

    The criticism (Akin's remarks) 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.

    "Absolutely we're prepared to call it (RNC Convention) off," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said on CNN. "I mean, human safety and human life trumps politics. I think the RNC recognizes that. (Ironies just abound)

    And last but not least is the emanate threat of civil war (starting in Texas, where else) if Obama wins

    August 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @NanH

      It would be comical if there weren't so many real world ramifications from their stupidity.

      Peace...

      August 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The threat of revolution is more real if Obama loses.

      Take the current joblessness and disparity between the haves (1%) and the have nots and watch both of these increase under a Romney/Ryan administration.

      Take a reinvigorated "Occupy" movement, 2nd amendment rights and add some radical anrchists or communists and you have a bona fide proletariat revolution on your hands.

      I'm not saying it will happen, but it's not as implausible as you might think. The Occupy movement proved that the tinder is ready and dry.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is my favorite quote on the "civil war" story:

      "When I saw the story I thought, once again, Lubbock is going to be the laughingstock of the entire nation,"

      How far away is Midland* from Lubbock again? 'Bout two hours drive.

      * Long time home to George W. Bush.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:17 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.