Assessing the Akin candidacy

George Soros’ Obama SuperPAC is behind the contrived and fading uproar over Missouri Congressman Todd Akin and his bid to unseat Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill. Karl Rove, the former Bush administration deputy chief of staff was alerted to Akin’s now famous gaffe by the Obama SuperPAC and used it to try and get Akin out of a race many believe Akin is once again winning.

Rove enlisted the help of other Missouri Republicans like Sen. Roy Blunt, who is believed to be behind the effort to get the Missouri Farm Bureau to pull its endorsement of Akin. The bureau is being bombarded with emails and phone calls by Akin supporters. Blunt’s pressure has put the bureau in the tough position of either pleasing the senior senator that it depends on for favorable legislation versus its dues and premium-paying constiuents who like Akin’s stellar conservative voting record and abhor McCaskill’s liberal peformance. If Blunt is not careful, he most surely will have primary opposition when he runs for re-election. Names are already being floated among conservatives and Tea Party activists.

Why are Rove and Blunt doing this? There are multiple theories:

1. Some believe it is payback because Akin refused to support President Bush’s excessive spending on a prescription drug benefit, the unpopular “No Child Left Behind” initiative for America’s public schools and the bailout of Wall Street. Akin, true to his conservative principles, felt all of those issues were something that should not have had government involvement.

2. Others suspect Rove and the GOP establishment are believed to be tired of candidates, like the former Nevada senatorial candidate Sharon Angle who lost to Harry Reid, whom they perceive to be unelectable. Such candidates win primaries, then lose the general election. For whatever reason, Rove pegged Akin as such a candidate and Blunt apparently agreed, despite early polling showing Akin jumping out to a 51-40 percent lead.

3. Another possible reason for the unprecedented attacks by the GOP establishment is they realize Akin, well-versed on the Constitution, cannot be easily persuaded to support just any bill, particularly those that expand federal power and increase spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is believed to have approved Blunt’s involvement in trying to get Akin out of the race. Why? They know they cannot control Akin, who has proven he will vote according to whatever the Constitution — and Bible — says. It is worth noting that the GOP establishment attacks (except for Rove’s murder comment, for which he later called Akin and apologized) on Akin have not been personal. They know him to be a Christian gentleman.

4. Another issue is that there are murmurs of a growing anti-evangelical bias burning among more moderate establishment Republicans. Some evangelicals in the party think this can be seen in both Mitt Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s repeated redaction of the oft-used line, “Our rights are derived from nature’s God.” Both Romney and Ryan have subtlely changed it to, “Our rights are derived from nature AND God.” This has alarmed conservative evangelicals in the party. The difference appears slight, but to Christians in particular, it is very important. The Romney/Ryan version separates nature from its Creator, most likely to assuage mildly leftist voters and moderate Republican sensibilities, particularly those with an intellectual bent toward evolution. Akin does not agree with evolution.

Another person whom Rove enlisted to execute the attack on Akin was Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC). Jesmer was the key person in promoting then Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to be the NRSC-approved candidate for U.S. Senator in 2010, rather than then State Rep. Marco Rubio, a conservative, Christian candidate. Crist, a liberal and agnostic, was recently a speaker at the Democratic National Convention and MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough, who has been clamoring for Akin to exit the race, suggested on his “Morning Joe” program that Crist would make a good Democrat candidate to challenge current Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The irony surrounding Jesmer holding such a powerful position is obvious and makes the GOP establishment look unprincipled.

The relationship between the GOP establishment in Missouri and evangelicals has often been strained and the Akin candidacy is aggravating the situation. Wealthy Jewish businessman Sam Fox, part of the more moderate St. Louis GOP establishment, is a major supporter of cloning (he’s also supporting Democrat Chris Koster in his bid to win re-election as Missouri attorney general). When Southern Baptists joined other conservatives in fiercely opposing legislation that would allow cloning in the state, a frustrated Fox publicly referred to Southern Baptists in Missouri as “zealots.” Conservative nationally syndicated columnist George Will, who is not a Christian, but is firmly in the GOP establishment’s hip pocket, used his column to lecture the Missouri Baptist Convention’s newspaper, The Pathway, about its strong rebuke of cloning and Republican involvement in trying to establish it in Missouri.

Whatever the reason for the growing rift in the GOP, Akin finds himself at the epicenter of a battle between the GOP establishment and conservative Missouri Republicans and Tea Partiers. Despite the barrage of criticism leveled at Akin by the Rove posse, polls now have Akin back in front of McCaskill. Meanwhile the Rove/Blunt/establishment wing of the party does not appear to be backing off of their demands. There is also a sense they have miscalculated the mood in Missouri, where conservative, pro-life Catholics and Southern Baptists, the two largest denominations in the state, make up a large enough chunk of the electorate to make this a nightmare for the Rove/Blunt establishment, much less McCaskill. Blunt, ironically, claims membership at First Baptist Church, Branson and once served as president of Southwest Baptist University (affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention) and as a trustee for Midwestern Bapitst Theological Seminary in Kansas City ( an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention). Akin was recently endorsed by about 100 Missouri Southern Baptist pastors, including eight former presidents of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Akin is not getting out of the race. He is raising money (more than $400,000 on the internet alone in the past 10 days) and at least two, major fundraising events are scheduled. Republican operatives who are Christians, are working hard to find large donors whom Rove and Blunt cannot touch to form a superPAC to run attack ads against McCaskill because Akin will not — even if he gets more money. Rumors are circulating that at least one, conservative super PAC, which does not want McCaskill to win under any circumstances, will soon jump into the fray. Conservative, pro-life, pro-family groups along with Missouri Tea Partiers are getting more aggressive in behalf of Akin. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is said to be bringing his organization’s bus to Missouri later this month and plans to campaign — with Akin aboard — across the state. More GOP leaders like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schafley and former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts have offered support to Akin. The Akin campaign team has been beefed-up with the addition of long-time Gingrich aid Rick Tyler, a highly respected operative in Republican circles. Rex Elsass, the award-winning media consultant who has worked with Akin on all of his campaigns, is also onboard. Do not be surprised to see Elsass-produced TV ads featuring Huckabee sometime during the campaign. Elsass and Huckaee teamed up to produce a very effective commercial for Akin during the primary. Huckabee is popular in Missouri, particularly among evangelicals. Dick Bott, the founder of the Bott Radio Network, is blanketing the state with pro-Akin programming every day in 30-minute pops. Bott recently hosted a fundraiser for Akin that consisted largely of out-of-state conservatives.

Conversely, Rove is starting to look, well, un-Rove-like. His incredibly inrresponsible statement about a murder attempt on Akin — at a time when the FBI is investigating threats against Akin, his family and campaign staff — has turned the stomach of Missourians. Gingrich pounced on David Gregory, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press program last Sunday when Gregory pointed out that Rove was just “joking” about murdering Akin. This is no time to be joking about such a thing given the recent shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Gingrich fired back. While some Missourians thought Akin’s rape comment was wrong, polls suggest they have accepted his apology and honored his request for forgiveness, which was broadcast in ads statewide. Suddenly, Akin is looking like the victim. Meanwhile Rove looks thugish, while Blunt, Kit Bond, John Danforth — and most shocking to Missouri conservatives — John Ashcroft, look like a pack of bullies with their demands that Akin exit the race. They seem oblivious to a groundswell of negative reaction by Missourians who feel they are disrespecting their votes.

Akin is not leaving the race. Rove/Blunt and the others look like they will continue their behavior until at least Sept. 25, the deadline for Akin to take his name off the ballot. To say this is putting pressure on members of the state Republican Party is an understatement. Civil War has broken out and as of this writing, the outcome is uncertain. Romney, meanwhile has pulled into a double-digit lead over President Obama in Missouri, raising the prospects of a coattail effect down the GOP ticket — including — Todd Akin.

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10 Responses to Assessing the Akin candidacy

  1. Daniel Hite says:

    Excellent, comprehensive article!

  2. Joann Barnes says:

    Excellent… it sounds just like I had decided it was. I have supported the Blunts and the other
    MO GOP (for years .I am 74) top people that want to trash Akin.. I will remember this AND none of them will ever get a vote from me for anything !!!!!!
    Joann Barnes

  3. jean ward says:

    things do get complicated. grateful that akins can stay focused.

  4. L.W. Adams says:

    I’m looking forward to meeting Todd Akin here in Poplar Bluff on September 14th. I wish I could give some money. There’s never been any doubt in my mind whether or not I would give him my vote. Of course I will. The hubbub over what he said was extremely misdirected: 1. Everyone completely ignored the main point that no baby is responsible for his conception and should not suffer an arbitrary execution. and 2. I personally know of stories that touch on the situation. Enough of that. It’s education , jobs and taxes that I want to talk with him about. Linda Adams

  5. Lois Linton says:

    May God multiply your readers and may the Senate Campaign Committee have to eat humble pie on November 6.

  6. Gregory Wagner says:

    “Natures God” read the 5000 year leap by Cleon Skousen, it has had a profound impact on my and my wife’s. lives

  7. Heartland Grandma says:

    From the beginning I was voting against McCaskill, so Akin gets my vote, regardless. No more Claire Obama!

  8. Carol says:

    Thank you Mr. Akin for standing firm in your convictions. Shame on those Republican leaders, you should all be ashamed of yourselves! Todd still has my support and will up until my vote is cast! If MO Farm Bureau declines to support Todd Akin, all of my insurance policies will be taken elsewhere. Shame on you if you cave to the pressures! Stand firm like you should!

  9. John Putnam says:

    Don, it was a pleasure to meet you in Joplin this week. Your analysis is exactly right and, I hope, will cause evangelical, pro-life, grassroots activists to rethink how we should relate to the Republican Party beginning November 7, right AFTER we defeat Claire McCaskill with a valiant champion, Todd Akin. John Putnam, Chairman, Jasper County (MO) Republican Central Committee

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