Mike Huckabee, perhaps the most prominent leader of the GOP’s evangelical wing, has come out strongly in defense of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Here’s a portion of the email that Huckabee sent out to his followers:
The Party’s leaders have for reasons that aren’t rational, left (Akin) behind on the political battlefield, wounded and bleeding, a casualty of his self-inflicted, but not intentional wound. In a Party that supposedly stands for life, it was tragic to see the carefully orchestrated and systematic attack on a fellow Republican. Not for a moral failure or corruption or a criminal act, but for a misstatement which he contritely and utterly repudiated.
I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview. This was a serious mistake, but it was blown out of proportion not by the left, but by Akin’s own Republican Party. Is this what the party really thinks of principled pro-life advocates? Do we forgive and forget the verbal gaffes of Republicans who are “conveniently pro-life” for political advantage, but crucify one who truly believes that every life is sacred?
Who ordered this “Code Red” on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out. Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees. Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out. Money has changed hands to push him off the plank. It is disgraceful.
From the spotlights of political offices and media perches, it may appear that the demand for Akin’s head is universal in the party. I assure you it is not. There is a vast, but mostly quiet army of people who have an innate sense of fairness and don’t like to see a fellow political pilgrim bullied. If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin. He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize. I’m waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves. It wasn’t just Todd Akin that was treated with contempt by the thinly veiled attack on Todd Akin. It was all the people who have faithfully knocked doors, made calls, and made sacrificial contributions to elect Republicans because we thought we were welcome in the party. Todd Akin owned his mistake. Who will step up and admit the effort being made to discredit Akin and apologize for the sleazy way it’s been handled?
Without in any way minimizing Akin’s rhetoric, there’s a lot of truth in Huckabee’s screed. The congressman’s position on rape and abortion is not by any means out of line with that of the Republican Party mainstream. The 2012 party platform calls for a ban on abortion, with no provision for exceptions in cases of rape and incest. It also calls for recognition in law that human life begins at the moment of conception, a position that precludes the right to choose for rape and incest victims.
As Huckabee understands, Akin is being ostracized by his party not for what he believes, but for stating what he believes too bluntly, and for calling attention to things that party elders want to keep hidden. It is telling, for instance, that Mitt Romney’s campaign is refusing to allow reporters to interview him unless they agree beforehand not to ask questions about abortion.
The GOP establishment wants the loyalty of the pro-life movement without the political baggage that comes with it among the general public. And it is bitterly angry with Akin because he has made it difficult to achieve those contradictory goals.
– Jay Bookman