Mike Huckabee rallied hundreds of Southern Baptists on a conference call Friday night in support of Todd Akin, offering advice about how they can help the embattled Missouri Senate candidate stay in the race — while acknowledging Akin still may have to bow out.
“This could be a Mt. Carmel moment,” said the former Arkansas governor, referring to the holy battle between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in the book of Kings. “You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will to.”…
“That kind of stuff’s been going on, and I told these [NRSC] people yesterday that I talked to: That’s got to stop. It can’t continue. That’s what union goons do: breaking people’s kneecaps when you cross a line. And Todd Akin has done nothing but make a mistake for which he has roundly repudiated the comment and apologized. There’s nothing else he can do.”…
“I would remind our pastor friends … over the last 10, 12 years the homosexual lobby is more powerful than they’ve ever been in Washington. Planned Parenthood is more powerful than they’ve ever been. Our children’s innocence is more threatened,” said [former Rep. J.C.] Watts, who was the House Republican Conference chairman in the late 1990s. “Todd Akin has been just totally with the family, totally stood for godly principles. He and his wife are just a delight to be around. … Todd Akin has not been the problem. He has been the solution.”
Such strong language is uncharacteristic for Huckabee. Clearly, Huckabee — who endorsed Akin the primary — sees this as more than just a strategic calculation on the part of the Romney/Ryan campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and others who have urged Akin to drop out. Rather, he sees it as a proxy for the fight between the establishment-money wing of the party and the grassroots, Christian wing of the party.
When I interviewed Huckabee for my recent feature profile of him, he talked about the feeling among social conservatives that Republicans use them to win elections but do not actually care about their issues. “Conservatives have been burned way too many times,” said Huckabee. “Social conservatives get used every four years, trotted out at the rallies to stand there for five hours, scream and yell for that candidate, knock on doors, make the phone calls, carry signs. When the election is over, they’re promptly forgotten, put up in the attic and asked not to come out in public again for another four years. I think a lot of people have grown tired of that, so hopefully that’s not going to be the case this year.”…
But if [Republicans] do not get rid of Akin they risk alienating moderates and women. Democrats are banking on just such a possibility, and they are making sure their convention has plenty of women speakers. And so the truly frightening possibility for Republicans is if Huckabee actually addresses the Akin controversy in his remarks Monday. Huckabee comes across as easy-going and unlikely to make such a move, but clearly the issue has touched a nerve for him. So we’ll just have to wait and watch to find out.
The question of why Huckabee would do this isn’t that hard to figure. For one thing, he was the most (only?) prominent Republican to back Akin in Missouri’s GOP primary earlier this month, a race that Akin won in an upset. Both men are also closely aligned with the Christian right and place an unusual emphasis on moral and cultural issues. Huckabee’s statement, which bemoans that “money has changed hands to push [Akin] off the plank,” also speaks to the grudges that he nurses from his 2008 White House campaign, which he believes was undermined by his party’s professional class and financial elite.
But his strong affirmation of support provides Akin with a crucial lifeline. For one thing, Akin now has a major national Republican leader willing to stand with him and fight back against the party’s isolation campaign. Perhaps more important, Huckabee could also help Akin rake in small donations from rank-and-file Christian conservatives.
As his ’08 experience showed, Huckabee isn’t exactly a fundraising machine, but what Akin needs right now is enough money to tide him over for a month or so – until after the final, more absolute Sept. 25 candidate switch deadline passes. If he’s still in the race at that point and is within striking distance of Claire McCaskill, it’s logical to assume that national Republicans will end their prohibition on supporting him financially.
Huckabee makes some great points. Why aren’t the Republican leaders saying hey, he made a mistake and then start to turn it on the Democrats and the media for going overboard?
They have been sucked in and become so paranoid about the so-called GOP war on women that sacrificing Akin was more important than anything else. If the GOP continues this piling on trend they will start to really frustrate very conservative pro-life Republicans who they will need in the fall.
“At first I felt (Akin’s comments) were offensive to women and insulting to my intelligence,” said Lisa Payne-Naeger, a member of the conservative Missouri Grassroots Coalition, who has an online political radio show. “What changed it for me was the Republican establishment’s effort to chop him off at the knees and install one of their own in the race.”
Payne-Naeger said she was so angered by the “onslaught” from party leaders that she donated to Akin’s campaign on Wednesday…
“Todd Akin is firmly grounded in his Christian beliefs,” said Kenneth Williams, Republican committee chairman for Sainte Genevieve County, who said he gave $100 to Akin’s campaign on Wednesday. “He’s the real deal.”…
“I support him probably even more than I did before,” said Molly Nesham, a home-schooling mother who also teaches at a Christian school and likes Akin’s stand on abortion. “He made a mistake and the Republican Party abandoned him.”
Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Via the Daily Caller.