ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Congressman Todd Akin is trying to go it alone after major political donors told him they would no longer support his U.S. Senate campaign. Wednesday Akin reached out to grassroots supporters asking for contributions in an effort to raise $100,000 by midnight.
His comments on FOX2’s Jaco Report Sunday drew a storm of protests from Republican leaders as well as Democrats. Akin apologized for using the term “legitimate rape,” saying he misspoke.
Some critics have questioned his ability to handle the demands of a Senator. Supporters insist he should not be “thrown under the bus” for one mistake.
This is not the first time Akin has been at odds with mainstream Republicans. He pointed to his independence during his primary race citing his vote against President George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program during his first year in office.
Presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney and House colleague and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan have asked him to step aside. Akin refuses to do so.
That does not surprise politicians who know him. They say he is a devout Christian who has often taken stands that were at odds with conventional political wisdom and even with his own Republican party. Some say Akin sees the race against Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill as a calling to duty from God rather than a political battle that needs traditional political skills to win.
This is not the first time Akin has drawn fire for a comment. Last year he was pressured to apologize and explain his statement, “in the heart of Liberalism is a hatred of God.” He later said he meant political liberalism.
Political consultant Paul Zemitzsch sees Akin as “very narrowly focused.” Zemitzsch, who ran Republican Frank Flotron’s campaign for Congress in 2000 against Akin and three others, says the congressman was out front on issues like the Pledge of Allegiance, the flag and religion. “I wouldn’t call them a mainstream issue in today’s modern Missouri,” Zemitzsch said.
Akin supporter, the Rev. Harold Hendrick disagrees. “I think he has focused on a wide range of subjects: jobs, indebtedness, the country going into bankruptcy all those sorts of things …the economy, but when a question was asked to him when he was fatigued he made a mistake.”
Hendrick and other ministers are working to shore up support for Akin. “It may be wonderful to see the election of a candidate who..the office didn’t have to be bought,” said Hendrick.
Zemitzsch says Akin does not approach campaigns in the way many other candidates do. “Todd has a core set of beliefs. He doesn’t care whether 64 or 75 percent of the people don’t agree with him; he’s going forward with that.”
Zemitzsch believes Akin does well in multi-candidate races (he won the 2000 GOP Second District primary race by fewer than 55 votes defeating former County Executive Gene McNary and legislator Frank Flotron).
But he argues Akin has not won a majority of GOP votes in a contested primary and therefore is a “minority factional candidate that does not represent the Republican Party.”
Hendrick says he has contributed to Akin’s campaign and wants him to stay in the race. “I’ve known him 25 years; he lives, he acts with integrity and honesty and we can believe him,” Hendrick said. Hendrick pointed to how the nation treated President Clinton after learning he had lied about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinski.
Speaking of political donors and voters alike, Hendrick said, “I just hope, when the furor calms down and they realize how unfair it is and they realize what a man of integrity Todd Akin is, they will reconsider.”
Hendrick discusses Akin on his web site http://www.haroldhendrick.com.