Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) has been in elective politics since 1988, and in Congress since 2001, and along the way, "he has made loyal allies among conservative legislators and Christian groups," say Stephanie McCrummen and David A. Fahrenthold at The Washington Post. Now, as Republicans and most right-leaning commentators are stridently calling for him to step down from his race for Senate after Akin claimed that abortion should be denied in all cases because "legitimate rape" victims can't get pregnant, those old social conservative pals are just about the only friends he has left. From groups like the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony List to individuals like Phyllis Schlafly and Mike Huckabee, Christian conservatives and anti-abortion advocates are standing by Akin and his decision to stay in the race. Why? Here, five reasons social conservatives are sticking with their man:
1. Akin was wrong, but he apologized
Akin's comments about "legitimate rape" were "indefensible" and "inappropriate," Family Research Council president Tony Perkins tells The Washington Post. But "he's acknowledged as such," and it's time to move on. "When others have made mistakes, you haven't seen the entire Republican establishment abandon him. I think it's somewhat suspect." It's obvious Akin is "not for rape," agrees Phyllis Schlafly. "That's ridiculous." Everybody's "making a big thing about an unfortunate remark," and the GOP establishment should butt out and let the people of Missouri decide Akin's fate.
2. Substantively, he's in the Republican mainstream
Mitt Romney and other Republicans "are throwing a pro-life congressman under the bus over a blunder, and it seems they are doing so because they disagree with his no-exceptions position on abortion," says Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason. Well, Akin's position "is an integral part of the Republican Party platform, the same position that was held by President Ronald Reagan." So why should Akin step down? He's a true Reagan Republican — unlike the "Romney Republicans, a fringe group of liberals" who support "the death penalty for children conceived in rape." Right, many lives have resulted "from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape," said Mike Huckabee on his radio show. "And sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."
3. Akin's a "good man" who made one verbal slip
"I've known Todd," Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention newspaper, tells The Washington Post. "I know his character and the man that he is." And though "grieved over" his rape remarks, "I know that his words didn't match his heart." Even Akin "said he misspoke," actor Kirk Cameron tells NBC's Today. Personally, "I like to evaluate people based on their entire life, their entire career, and (what) they stand for," and with Akin, "I believe he's a good man." He's a "strong Christian man with a wonderful family," says Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Rather than "petty personal attacks," this election "should be about how did Todd Akin vote and what did he vote for and what did he stand for."
4. Akin is the real victim
The real travesty here is that "everybody is gang-tackling Todd Akin," says the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer. "You talk about a forcible situation, you talk about somebody being a victim of forcible assault, that would be Todd Akin." He needs our help. The "old Northeastern establishment Republicans like Romney" obviously feel threatened by Akin, and so "that establishment savages him — violently and in unison," says American Vision's Joel McDurmon. "Call it a political gang rape — a legitimate one."
5. Conservatives just shouldn't attack conservatives
Look, what Akin said really "was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I'm bothered by this rush to pile on," says Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.). "And I'm bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him." His unfortunate "legitimate rape" comment "could have been quickly and easily handled with a consolidated response," says American Vision's Joel McDurmon. But, predictably, Republicans balked, because unlike liberals, "conservatives shoot their wounded."
Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.