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Culture wars Richard Falknor on 23 Aug 2012 11:36 pm

UPDATED! Can Governor Mitt Romney Fix His Campaign’s Todd Akin Mess?

UPDATE AUGUST24! Cliff Kincaid  (Renew America) yesterday reported on “Purging conservatism from the GOP” —  “Once again, in ganging up on Akin, Republicans and conservatives lost sight of the real extremist, Barack Obama, while ceding ground to the liberals and allowing them to control the parameters of the public debate. It is a scenario that is played out over and over again, as if the Republicans never learn. Or perhaps a Republican like Romney, who supported abortion rights in Massachusetts, knew exactly what he was doing and where this is all going — the eventual elimination of the social issues from the national Republican agenda. Romney has made it quite clear that he wants no part of them, preferring instead to run on economic and financial matters. He doesn’t even want to talk about security problems in the State Department, in the person of Muslim Brotherhood-connected official and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.”

* * * * *

Missouri Senate: McCaskill (D) 48%, Akin (R) 38% – – Rasmussen
“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.”  — Mike Huckabee via Politico’s Alexander Burns

Rosalind S. Helderman (Washington Post) reported Tuesday that Tony Perkins chief of the Family Research Council had declared —

“’If Todd wants to stay in the race, I will continue to support him,’ Perkins said in an interview. ‘I think his comments were indefensible. I think they were inappropriate. He’s acknowledged as such. But you know, when others have made mistakes, you haven’t seen the entire Republican establishment abandon him. I think it’s somewhat suspect.’”

Let us stipulate right now that, in our view, Representative Todd Akin’s misstep through his comments about “legitimate rape” was very serious. See Daniel Horowitz’s (RedState) “The Broader Issue is Abortion on Demand, Not Political Gaffes” for a thoughtful discussion.

But the right question for the Romney Campaign was the classic: “Do you want a bill, or do you want an issue?” 

That is, do you want a resolution right away and have the issue largely go away? Or, for some perverse reason, do you want to lead a long-continuing national denunciation of the GOP Missouri U. S. Senate candidate?

In the event, the Romney Campaign now has no resolution; the “issue” – whatever it is by now after Mr. Akin’s apology – is open to endless exploitation by the Left.  And, as governor Huckabee’s and Mr. Perkins’ statements make clear, there is a palpable distaste among social conservatives for the way the matter is playing out.

As they understandably fear, the Romney Campaign might turn on any of the social conservatives.  “Who ordered this ‘Code Red’?” indeed.

Apart from the information governor Huckabee provided, we don’t know the timeline of the Campaign’s reaction to the initial news about Mr. Akin’s blunder.

But we wonder whether a call from governor Mitt Romney to candidate Akin thanking him for confessing his serious error and expressing Mr. Romney’s recognition for his past good work in the House and the governor’s expectation that he would make a strong national contribution to the pro-life movement in the future, would have enabled Mr. Aikin to leave promptly and with some dignity.

Is it too late?

We know some of Mr. Akin’s former staff and respect them, and have even had a (courteous) exchange with him on foreign policy.  He is a decent man who has worked hard in the House on values concerns.

And, yes, the matter is “somewhat suspect” as Tony Perkins said. 

The ad hominem tone and force of many of the GOP attacks on Mr. Akin  — and the reportedly strong and precipitate moves against his campaign —

  • seem unrelated to any rational objective (like allowing him to leave with his head up and not angering his supporters who are necessary to unseat the Democrat incumbent);
  • are likely to make grass-roots social conservatives even more uneasy after Mr. Romney’s dismissive remarks about Chick-A-Filet;
  • and, as the Rasmussen poll suggests, are further jeopardizing any favorable electoral outcome in Missouri by demoralizing Republicans and vexing Akin loyalists.

Let’s pray that governor Romney himself  takes the time to fix this, quickly. That is what effective presidents do — get to the root of complicated political standoffs and craft a solution.  That is what he will have to do, when he is elected,  with errant senators of both parties  — and no matter which party takes the Senate.

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