Missouri

Video of Todd Akin’s Extortionist Friend Threatening a Doctor – Months before Akin Contributed to His Campaign

On March 11, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back and killed outside his Pensacola, Florida clinic by an assassin who stepped out of a group of anti-abortion protesters. Days later, longtime Todd Akin associate Tim Dreste delivered a chilling message to St. Louis-area doctor Yogendra Shah. Dreste stood in front of his clinic with a sign that read “Dr. Shah, are you feeling under the Gunn?” – referring to the slain Florida doctor. We’ve obtained a short video recording of this infamous incident, which you can watch below. 

Dreste would later be convicted of extortion on the basis of this incident and others that followed. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones ruled in 1999 that Dreste “acted with malice…and with specific intent in threatening plaintiffs.”
 
Yet Todd Akin donated to Dreste’s long-shot campaign for the state house in October 1993, just months after Dreste threatened Dr. Shah. Very few others did so – Akin’s $200 contribution was Dreste’s 2nd largest individual contribution and made up 9% of his total donations.
 
 
Akin had known Dreste for the better part of a decade by then and would have known what he was supporting when he cut that check – the St. Louis Post-Dispatch later wrote:
Wearing a hat adorned with shotgun shells, Tim Dreste is a familiar sight among the anti-abortion protesters who regularly picket the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.
 
Dreste was the talk of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps when, after the murder in 1993 of Dr. David Gunn in Florida, he carried a sign asking, "Do You Feel Under the Gunn?"
Akin and Dreste were both involved in the Pro-Life Direct Action League in the late 80s. Dreste – under orders from Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry – broke away in September 1988 and formed a more radical group, Whole Life Ministries. The following month, Akin appeared at one of the group’s events and described Dreste’s foot soldiers as “freedom fighters.” Days later, Akin was elected for the first time to public office.
 
In 1989, Akin intervened on behalf of one of Dreste’s protesters who had been convicted of assaulting a clinic worker. When Dreste launched the Life Chain of St. Louis in 1990, Akin signed on as an endorser and attended the event through the 90s and beyond. And when Dreste helped form a new militia group in 1995 – the 1st Missouri Volunteers – Akin signed on to support them as well.
 
Given what happened in 1993 and 1994, it’s both deeply revealing and disturbing that Akin continued to work with and support Dreste. In April 1994, Dreste co-founded a radical new anti-abortion group – the American Coalition of Life Activists – and met with Paul Hill. On July 30th, Paul Hill murdered Dr. John Bayard Britton, who replaced Dr. Gunn in Pensacola, as well as Britton's bodyguard.
 
Days later, Dreste appeared outside a St. Louis-area clinic with a sign reading “Abortionists 50 million, Babies 3.” He also contributed to Hill's legal fund, told a clinic worker, “I’m John Hill, you know my brother Paul,” and tried to terrorize doctors by passing out “wanted” posters outside their homes and clinics (similar posters were distributed before Gunn and Britton were murdered). Through all of this, Akin remained loyal to Dreste.
 
In December of 1994, Dreste helped launch the 1st Missouri Volunteers militia group, becoming its chaplain and captain. A couple months later, Akin appeared on fliers promoting the militia’s March 1995 rally. He didn’t attend due to “scheduling conflicts” and sent a letter of support instead, which was read aloud by a militiaman. Then on May 2nd, not even two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing, Akin defended Dreste’s militia in the Springfield News-Leader, saying “there’s a lot of potential for good.” And their relationship didn’t end there.
 
To recap, Akin stuck with Dreste after he publicly threatened a doctor and condoned murder in 1993. And he stuck by his old protest buddy in 1995 even though the year before, Dreste:
  • co-founded a pro-violence anti-abortion group
  • met with a domestic terrorist who murdered two people three months later
  • condoned those murders and contributed to the killer’s legal fund
  • threatened doctors and clinic staff during his frequent protest appearances.
Akin sure is loyal! To be sure, Akin has tried his best to cover up his long ties to and support for Dreste. He's openly lied about his history with the 1st Missouri Volunteers, and his campaign just wants to change the subject. But the truth is slowly coming out, including his numerous arrests (four at last count!) and name switcheroo to conceal them. But if you judge a man by his actions, not his press releases, Akin has remained loyal to the bitter end.
 
He reunited early last year with the people he protested (and was arrested) with in the 80s. He’s attended virtually every Life Chain event up until this year. And as we'll show, he’s apparently still on good terms with convicted extortionist Tim Dreste.

Todd Akin Sought to Narrow the Definition of Child Abuse

Many seem to think that Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks placed him on the fringe of the Republican Party. In reality, he’s spent most of his career there.

It’s now widely known that Akin teamed up with Paul Ryan in 2011 to try to narrow the definition of rape – i.e. “forcible rape.” This is no anomaly. Early in his career as a state legislator, Akin even tried to narrow the definition of child abuse.

Back in May of 1991, the Missouri House debated a bill to “outlaw rape and sexual abuse in marriage.” “Rape is rape,” said Rep. Jo Ann Karll shortly before the bill was overwhelmingly passed. “Missouri is finally moving into the 20th century,” said Colleen Coble, executive director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But not everyone was celebrating. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on 5/1/91 that Akin voted for the bill but “questioned whether a marital rape law might be misused ‘in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.’”

Just about any law can be abused, and lawmakers must always be cognizant of this. But Akin seems to be preoccupied with the potential for abuse of the law whenever it relates to the government preventing abuse in the household.

Akin and his supporters believe that the husband is head of the household, and they’re loathe to regulate what he can and cannot do to his wife and children. In fact, prominent Akin supporter Phyllis Schlafly denies the very possibility of marital rape: “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.”

And so in March of 1992, Akin fought for a narrower definition of child abuse. The Missouri House was considering a bill to create a “statewide child abuse review board” and tighten the standard for proving child abuse from “reason to suspect” to “credible evidence.”

The bill’s sponsor said the definition change was necessary to ensure that “all cases of child abuse can be covered.” Akin, however, was suspicious. He argued that the bill “needed a more restrictive definition of abuse” because of the potential for abuse of the child abuse law. The Post-Dispatch reported on 3/5/92:

Akin said he was concerned that ‘the department could come into your home and if your kid had just fallen off his bike and skinned his knee…take your kid away.’ Akin also said that with a loose definition of abuse, neighbors might use child-abuse reports ‘as a tool to harass, a way to get even with’ someone they dislike.

This is how Akin’s mind works. You need to worry about vengeful soon-to-be ex-wives claiming rape to get back at their husbands. You need to make sure that non-forcibly raped women aren’t getting government-funded medical care. And you can’t let neighbors harass one another by falsely claiming child abuse to the overbearing nanny state enforcers who will take kids away for having a scraped knee.

Akin’s efforts earned him a rebuke from the Post-Dispatch editorial board, which singled him as an alarmist who supports an “excessively restrictive child-mistreatment law” and resorts to “extreme and unlikely examples to bolster his case.” It seems like they had him pegged way back then.

Here is the full 3/10/92 editorial, entitled “Abuse Law Fair to the Accused, Children”:

The Missouri House is moving ahead in setting up a state board that would arbitrate disputes between people accused of child abuse and the Division of Family Services. The House gave initial approval to this proposal on Wednesday. It shouldn't allow critics to prevent it from passing the bill, sponsored by Rep. Kaye Steinmetz of Florissant.
 
Missouri's child-abuse law is basically a good one, but it needed to be revised. The bill would restrict the standard the state would use in proving child abuse. The old standard called for ‘reason to suspect.’ The new standard would require ‘credible evidence.’
 
Clearly, the change is aimed at protecting people from being recklessly and falsely accused of abusing children. Some critics say the definition should be even more restrictive, but they should give this proposal the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, more restrictions will be added to the law if critics, like Republican Rep. Todd Akin of St. Charles, get their way. Mr. Akin resorts to extreme and unlikely examples to bolster his case.
 
The bill, he argues, would permit child-abuse investigators to ‘come into your home and if your kid had just fallen off his bike and skinned his knee…take your kid away.’ In fact, the more restrictive the law, the more it ties the hands of child-abuse investigators and the more likely serious cases of child mistreatment might go undetected.
 
Mr. Akin does raise a real concern, however, when he says a disgruntled person might try to use the child-abuse law to harass a neighbor. But the way to address that issue is through better trained child-abuse investigators. The bill would mandate improved training, which should make the workers more proficient in investigating cases while protecting people from being falsely accused.
 
The statewide child abuse review board would be appointed by the governor and would require Senate confirmation. The Legislature should see the benefits in passing the bill in its existing form rather than weakening it to appease alarmists who favor an excessively restrictive child-mistreatment law.

 

 

Akin: 'People Understand the Threat that Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama Pose to our Country'

Todd Akin’s campaign continues to sponsor The Janet Mefferd Show, as Mefferd has hosted Akin surrogates like Janet Huckabee and Linda Becker of “Women Standing with Todd Akin.” Finally, the embattled Senate candidate himself appeared on the far-right talk show, where he said that Missourians know that people who “believe in traditional marriage” and “believe in freedom” are able to “understand the threat that Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama pose to our country,” which is why he believes he will in in November.

One of the things that a lot of the establishment people have not understood about this race is there are polls that just talk about ‘how would you vote’ but there’s also another factor in there and that’s the enthusiasm, the fire and the drive and the energy that’s in a campaign. Our campaign has a tremendous energy behind it. The people that are involved in this race know what they believed. They believe that our Creator gave us life, liberty the pursuit of happiness; they believe in traditional marriage, they believe in freedom. These people understand the threat that Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama pose to our country.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that this is one we’re going to put in the Republican column by God’s grace,” Akin added, urging donations to his campaign since he trails McCaskill in fundraising.

Akin went on to suggest that Obama is raising taxes on people who simply turn on their lights or purchase a wheelchair.

You remember how Barack Obama specifically promised nobody making less than $250,000 is going to be taxed, well that’s absolutely ridiculous, he’s taxed them with dozens of taxes on people that make less than $250,000. His energy policy, anybody who flips a light switch is going to get taxed. He’s got taxes—these people tax some of the weirdest things. Would you ever even in a wild moment would you ever consider taxing a wheelchair? I mean these people are bizarre.

Of course, there is no wheelchair tax or a “light switch tax,” but as we already know Akin has never had a problem with making stuff up.

Pro-Akin Bus Tour to Feature Advocate of Violent Insurrection

The Family Research Council is organizing another Religious Right bus tour to bolster Todd Akin’s campaign for Missouri against Sen. Claire McCaskill. The “Repeal and Replace McCaskill Tour” will feature prominent conservative figures like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins and Phyllis Schlafly and lesser-known activists like Stephen Broden.

The Faith, Family, Freedom Fund, a super PAC associated with Family Research Council Action, is bringing a statewide bus tour through Missouri, October 28th - November 2nd, with one clear message: Senator Claire McCaskill’s policies are harmful to Missouri families .

Come help us cheer on the Repeal & Replace McCaskill tour as the bus stops near you! We must fight to bring the truth to the people of Missouri!

The Fund is joined in this effort by other prominent leaders and groups such as Phyllis Schlafly, Governor Mike Huckabee, Ken Blackwell, Tony Perkins, Pastor Stephen Broden, The Honorable Marilyn Musgrave, Susan B. Anthony List, Eagle Forum PAC and several more.

Broden is a failed Republican candidate for Congress who garnered national attention when he floated violent insurrection against the Obama administration.

While Akin seeks to distance himself from his past support for militia groups and radical anti-abortion rights groups and their leaders, the inclusion of Broden on the bus tour only highlights Akin’s close relationship with the most extreme elements of the far-right.

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Todd Akin Arrested on May 9, 1987 with Radical Anti-Abortion Group

In September we broke the news that Todd Akin was arrested for blocking access to a women's health clinic. We posted a video showing Akin speaking freely of his arrest but he refused to provide any details ... So we had to go find them ourselves.

Janet Huckabee: 'Women are Really on Fire for Todd Akin'

As her husband Mike Huckabee has emerged as one of Todd Akin’s biggest boosters, Janet Huckabee is now hitting the campaign trail along with the Duggar family for Akin, whose campaign has been unraveling after he said survivors of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant as a result. She told conservative radio show host Janet Mefferd, who noted before the broadcast that “portions of The Janet Mefferd Show are sponsored by the Todd Akin for U.S. Senate campaign,” that “women are really on fire for Todd Akin” and “women know what they want and right now I think they want Todd Akin to be their Senator.” Despite Huckabee’s spin or presence in an alternative reality, polls have consistently shown McCaskill with a double digit lead among women voters.

Mefferd: As you’re going around and you’re talking to women and you’re doing these events around the state of Missouri, what are you hearing from women in particular about their support for Todd Akin and what they think conversely about Senator McCaskill?

Huckabee: I think women are really on fire for Todd Akin. They’re out there, they’re praying for him, they’re lifting him up in prayer, they’re giving financially. You know everybody can’t give millions and millions of dollars, and it’s to me more important that a thousand people give one dollar than it is for one person to give a thousand dollars, because if you have a thousand people that are willing to give a dollar the amount is the same but you have a thousand people that have put skin in the game and you have a thousand votes of people who are going to say ‘hey, I’m going to vote for him.’ I tell people it doesn’t matter what you give, it’s equal sacrifice that you’re willing to make phone calls, that you’re willing to put up signs, that you’re willing give that dollar or that thousand dollars, whatever you can do and women around the state are doing that. To me it’s exciting, they always want to say ‘do you want to talk to the man in charge or the woman who knows’? Women know what they want and right now I think they want Todd Akin to be their Senator.

Mefferd: Oh I agree, it is so exciting. Go to JanetMefferd.com, click on that box that says ‘Support Todd Akin, Help Take Back the Senate’ and get involved today.

What Is Todd Akin Hiding? Campaign Breaks Promise to Release Details of Candidate's Arrest

On Thursday, we released a video of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin telling an audience that he had once been arrested for blocking access to a reproductive health clinic. At a press conference the following day in Kansas City, Akin told the Associated Press that he had been arrested “about 25 years ago or so,” and a campaign aide “promised to provide details of the arrest later Friday.” But the campaign failed to come through.

GOP Pollster advised Akin to Withstand Controversy like David Koresh Faced the ATF in Waco

While speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch Weekly, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said she told her client Todd Akin to withstand the controversy that emerged following his comments on “legitimate rape” just like David Koresh, the Waco compound cult leader whose standoff with the ATF led to over eighty deaths. Conway told Perkins that she advised Akin to survive efforts to “smoke him out” like Koresh until they “realize the guy’s not coming out of the bunker.” She was speaking with Perkins just as the deadline for Akin to drop out passed, and Republican figures such as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint, including DeMint’s powerful Senate Conservatives Fund, rallied to Akin’s behalf. Conway said she expects even more Republicans to follow Perkins’ lead in rallying behind Akin.

Perkins: The distance between them is narrowing, Todd Akin has bounced back up, and the evidence of that is pretty clear because now you see other Republicans who abandoned him are now taking a second look at the race and realizing just how important this seat is.

Conway: They are and they’re following your lead Tony. You saw former speaker Gingrich there on Todd’s behalf at a fundraiser on Monday, saying it’s just “conventional idiocy” that’s preventing people from backing Todd, and he predicts that come mid-October everyone will be following yours and his lead back to Missouri, with their money. Of course, former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Senator Jim DeMint came out just yesterday to support Todd. I believe that the establishment will have to look at this race and they will have to hold their nose because the first days—and I’ve expressed this to Todd as my client for a while now, I’ve expressed it to him directly—the first day or two where it was like the Waco with David Koresh situation where they’re trying to smoke him out with the SWAT teams and the helicopters and the bad Nancy Sinatra records. Then here comes day two and you realize the guy’s not coming out of the bunker. Listen, Todd has shown his principle to the voters.

Todd Akin Recounts Arrest at Anti-Choice Demonstration

At a 2011 “pastor’s briefing” with disgraced pseudo-historian David Barton, Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) recounted an experience of going to jail after protesting against abortion rights. Akin told the audience that he had earlier spoken with “a group of people who had been in jail with me” who were all “involved in the pro-life movement.”

“Don’t tell anybody I’m a jail bird,” Akin said, briefly telling a story about when “a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while and you know how it goes.”

At the event with Barton, who has strongly backed his candidacy and has been campaigning with the embattled candidate, Akin was discussing biblical views on when to submit to governmental authority. Akin’s extreme views on abortion rights and rape are already well-known, but he only gave few details about his time as a “jail bird” during what may have been an illegal blockade of a clinic.

Watch:

Akin: Yesterday I spoke to a group of people who had been in jail with me, you know don’t tell anybody I’m a jail bird, you know, but there were a bunch of us that were years ago involved in the pro-life movement and the question becomes: the Bible says, ‘rescue the innocent that is being led to slaughter,’ so a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while and you know how it goes, and the question is, is that biblical or not?

UPDATE: Akin confirmed his arrest at a news conference, as reported by the Associated Press. 

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin said Friday that he had been arrested during an anti-abortion protest about two decades ago but didn't provide details of where or when the event occurred.

...

In a video circulating widely on the Internet Friday, Akin is seen discussing his involvement in an anti-abortion demonstration and says "you know, don't tell anybody I'm a jail bird." He also says in the video that "a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while, and you know how it goes."

Asked at a press conference Friday in Kansas City to confirm the arrest, Akin said: "Yeah, well, certainly. Probably about 25 years ago or so I was involved in some peaceful protests. As I've made very clear I don't apologize for being pro-life. I stand up for the things I believe in."

His campaign promised to provide details of the arrest later Friday.

Religious Right Extremists to Ride on the Todd Akin Bus Tour

Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin is organizing a “Common Sense Bus Tour” following Newt Gingrich’s visit to boost the congressman’s embattled campaign. While Akin seems to have lost the support of major GOP figures after he said that it is extremely unlikely for a woman to become pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape,” he has consistently held the support of Religious Right activists who adore his ultraconservative views. Eagle Forum, which is based in St. Louis, sent out this invitation:

Phyllis Schlafly invites you to join her at first stop of the Missouri Common Sense Bus on Tuesday, September 25 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel Ballroom, 800 Washington Avenue St. Louis, Missouri.

You will find encouragement at each stop of the Missouri Common Sense Bus tour across Missouri. Each stop will feature some of Missouri's most well-known conservative leaders who are standing with Todd Akin for U.S. Senate.

With only a few weeks until the election, invite your friends and family to come out to hear why Todd Akin is the right choice to represent common sense in the U.S. Senate. Participants will vary by stop, but include the following:

• Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum
• Dick Bott, Founder of Bott Radio Network
• Rich Bott, President of Bott Radio Network
• Don Hinkle, Editor of "The Pathway" and Director of Public Policy Missouri Baptist Convention
• Bev Ehlen, Missouri President, Concerned Women for America
• Pastor David Smith
• Buddy Smith, Executive Director, American Family Association

While it comes as no surprise that such far-right activists are rallying to Akin’s defense, here is why they may not help Akin improve his image among voters.

  • Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum has repeatedly asserted that women cannot be raped by their husband and that marital rape is simply a myth, contrived by feminists, to get women to leave their marriages.
  • Bev Ehlen, the head of Concerned Women for America-Missouri, believes that gays should deal with discrimination just as “ugly” people do and even insists that “homosexuals molest children at ten times the rate of heterosexuals” and constitute the vast majority of child molesters.
  • Buddy Smith of the American Family Association has said that people “who are caught in this trap of homosexuality are in the clasp of Satan.”

Seeing that Akin has said that liberals hate God and warned gay rights will lead to the destruction of civilization, it is an unsurprising group of campaigners.

Todd Akin's Best Friend Mike Huckabee Takes RNC Stage Tonight

I’m not sure what the RNC schedulers were thinking, but Mike Huckabee is set to “legitimate rape” back on the map tonight – a mere two speeches ahead of Paul Ryan. To be sure, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality will be on his best behavior, but Huckabee is inextricably linked with Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. And as we’ll explore, Huckabee’s own record is even more extreme and disturbing than Akin’s. 

Huckabee, who prominently endorsed Akin in his recent primary, quickly emerged as his top defender in the wake of Akin’s controversial remarks. He publicly chastised Republican leaders for ditching Akin and sent out a fundraising appeal to his list. Akin even made the announcement that he was staying in the race on Huckabee’s radio show.
 
In the course of defending Akin, Huckabee made it known that some “extraordinary things” have resulted from rape:
And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
This was no mistake. Huckabee starred in a documentary called “The Gift of Life,” which prominently features Rebecca Kiessling, author of “Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope.” In the book and film, Kiessling shares her “personal story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortionists.” Kiessling, not by chance, came on Huckabee’s show immediately following Akin’s announcement.
 
Huckabee has been here before. In 1998, Arkansas State Senator Fay Boozman, who like Akin was running for Senate, argued that “hormones generated by fear usually prevented rape victims from getting pregnant.” Boozman lost badly, but he was rescued when “Huckabee, a friend and political ally for many years, put Boozman in charge of the Arkansas Department of Health.”
 
Then in 2004, he praised Leon Holmes, the former head of Arkansas Right to Life whom Huckabee later hired to represent the state, after his nomination to a federal judgeship became embroiled in controversy. Holmes had written years earlier that abortion in the case of rape “is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with the same frequency as snow in Miami.” Huckabee jumped into the fray and vouched for the right-wing nominee, saying that he “will not let politics be a part his decisions but will judge according to the law.”
 
Remarkably though, this isn’t the worst of it. Mike Huckabee has a long, sordid and frankly astonishing history involving the crime of rape. I will highlight the worst of the worst later today.

 

Anti-Abortion Group Calls on Todd Akin to Withdraw from Senate Race

Earlier this evening, the Christian Defense Coalition became the first anti-abortion group to call on Todd Akin to withdraw from the Senate race in Missouri. In a statement distributed by the right-wing Christian Newswire, the head of the Christian Defense Coalition, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, described Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” as “offensive, repugnant and troubling.” 

Mahoney said that while he respects “the record of Congressman Akin, especially in the pro-life community,” his comments were “so offensive and indefensible” that he must “assume the full consequences and responsibility for making them.” He can do so, Mahoney said, by “removing himself from the Missouri Senate race.” Mahoney also expressed his concern that if Akin doesn’t withdraw, “these comments will follow the Congressman throughout the entire campaign.”
 
Mahoney is not what you would call a liberal. He was a longtime associate of Randall Terry, the extremist anti-abortion activist and former leader of Operation Rescue. In February, Mahoney was arrested in front of the White House while protesting President Obama’s health care bill. In March he participated in an effort to “encircle” the Supreme Court and pray for Obamacare to be struck down. And next month in Charlotte, he plans to lead protests against Obama and offer “live ultrasounds” throughout the city.

 

Paul Ryan to Headline Todd Akin Love Fest Next Month

Earlier today, Mitt Romney described Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” as “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” In a separate interview, Romney said, “I can't defend what he said, I can't defend him.”

Romney may not be able to defend Akin, but his running mate Paul Ryan knows some people who can. He’s set to headline next month’s Values Voter Summit alongside a who’s who of Akin defenders and endorsers.
 
The event’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, leapt to Akin’s defense. The group’s political action committee complained today that Akin was “getting a very bad break here” and pledged to “support him fully and completely.”
 
Speaking from the RNC platform committee meeting, FRC president Tony Perkins warned Sen. Scott Brown to back off from his criticism of Akin: “He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow.”
 
Meanwhile Akin’s own website advertises his “100% lifetime rating” from FRC.
 
 
The American Family Association is another major sponsor. The group’s spokesperson, Bryan Fischer said that Akin was “absolutely right.” Continuing, he said that the trauma of a “real, genuine rape, a case of forcible rape” would make it impossible or difficult for a woman to conceive. Meanwhile, of the high-profile endorsers listed on Akin’s website, Mike Huckabee and Reps. Michele Bachmann, Steve King and Jim Jordan will be featured speakers at the Values Voter Summit.
 
While Akin himself has tried in various ways to distance himself from his own comments, his supporters at FRC, AFA, and elsewhere have enthusiastically embraced them. There is no doubt that they will use the Values Voter Summit to buttress their newly minted martyr.
 
The real question is whether the Romney campaign will have Ryan go ahead and headline the event. Ryan, who has previously sought to redefine rape and ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, would definitely fit in. But the problem is that he might fit in too well.

 

Why is Mitt Romney Outraged at Todd Akin and Not at Paul Ryan?

Mitt Romney is outraged! He's insulted! He's offended!

Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney's own running mate.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments - a policy that is the GOP standard -- should be getting just as much attention.

Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn't be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:

"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."

"I have an entirely different view," Romney said. "What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."

What is Romney's "entirely different view"? That Rep. Akin doesn't have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he's so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between "legitimate rape" and "illegitimate rape"? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn't be able to choose whether to carry their rapists' children?

Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called "personhood" amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the "legitimate rape" nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of "forcible rape" - a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.

Romney himself has flirted with the "personhood" idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he'd "absolutely" support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.

And Romney hasn't always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.

Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.

The real scandal of Rep. Akin's comments isn't the faulty sex-ed he's teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement's skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can't accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue - the victim of a "legitimate rape" - would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies - including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.

Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin's misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin's policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

PFAW

Why We Have to Keep Monitoring Bryan Fischer

Every once is a while, we will get criticized for supposedly paying too much attention to the AFA's Bryan Fischer, with people accusing us of giving him the attention that he craves and suggesting that we'd be better off just ignoring him.

Believe us, we'd love nothing more than to be able to ignore Fischer's daily litany of idiotically bigoted ravings ... but we can't do that as long as leading Republican candidates keep appearing on his program, as Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin did just today where they rejoiced in the fact that "freedom seems to be on the march again": 

Todd Akin, Darling of the Religious Right, Wins Senate Primary

Missouri congressman Todd Akin eked out a win last night over  two rivals in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, adding to a list of Religious Right backed candidates winning competitive primaries, including Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Ted Cruz of Texas. Akin is more than just a dogmatic conservative-- he's a darling of the Religious Right, earning perfect 100% ratings from the Family Research Council, National Right to Life and Concerned Women for America . Akin has also worked Religious Right with activists Tony Perkins, Janet Porter, Rick Scarborough, Tom DeLay and David Barton, who even recorded an ad on his behalf.

Akin gained notoriety after he told Perkins on his radio show that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God,” a remark he refused to apologize for.

The congressman is also a virulent opponent of LGBT rights, pushing a ban on same-sex unions of any form in the military and as Think Progress noted, has co-sponsored nearly every piece of anti-gay legislation in the current House session. He thinks that “the liberal agenda has infiltrated our military” due to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and tried to overturn Washington, D.C.’s marriage equality law.

He took to the House Floor in 2006 with a warning that “anybody who knows something about the history of the human race knows that there is no civilization which has condoned homosexual marriage widely and openly that has long survived.”

In a documentary for Truth in Action Ministries, he claimed that the left “will snuff out the light of freedom” by “rewriting the history of America,” and warned that the health care reform law is “an unbiblical threat” that violated the Ten Commandments. Akin even believes that Medicare is unconstitutional, wants to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy and the Environmental Protect Agency, wants to impeach judges for “making decisions not based on the U.S. Constitution,” and likens student loan reform to “stage three cancer.”

Akin said that Thanksgiving should be remembered as a day to renounce “unbiblical” socialism and that the U.S. should use the Pilgrim society as a model because the Pilgrims used the Bible as a “blueprint” for economic, education and government policies.

He consistently pushes anti-choice legislation and even said that legal abortion is the reason for illegal immigration: “If you think about it we’ve aborted however many – 40 million – Americans through abortion. If those Americans had not been aborted, we might have more laborers here. Consequently, America is not reproducing itself in terms of our own internal repopulation of having a bunch of kids.”

Akin thanked God and Mike Huckabee for his primary success in his victory statement:

First, I want to give thanks to God our Creator who has blessed this campaign, heard your prayers, and answered them with victory. Through the months, we have seen frequent instances of His blessing and are reminded that with Him all things are possible!

I also wanted to thank Governor Mike Huckabee, who was with us from the start, stayed by our side, lifted us up in prayer, and tonight celebrates with us in victory. Governor Huckabee – I thank you, my family thanks you, and our volunteers thank you for your dedication to our campaign and devotion to saving the America we love.

From the depths of my heart I want to thank every single volunteer who served in our campaign and brought our winning message to the people of Missouri. Tonight one campaign ends…tomorrow another begins.

Newest Young Elected Progressive Candidates

We are continuing to roll out our new Young Elected Progressives candidates this week with three more candidates under the age of 35. Today we are introducing you to Bret Binder (PA), Will Sylianteng (PA), and Sarah Gillooly (MO).

Bret Binder

Bret Binder is running for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 156th district. Binder is currently an attorney and small business owner. He founded Binder & Canno, LLC and is part owner of Pudding Lane Brookline, a gourmet rice pudding emporium. He also played important roles with multiple real estate companies, including being the general partner of Seamazing, LLC. Prior to the creation of his law firm, Binder was a law clerk to Justice Sandra Schultz Newman of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He hopes to use this background while in the state legislature to fight back against the recent Voter ID law and will promote the importance of public education to the leaders in Harrisburg. Visit his website here.

Will Sylianteng

Will Sylianteng is running to represent the 151st district in the Pennsylvania House. He currently practices law in Blue Bell, PA and has chaired the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee as well as being the vice-chair of its Civil Practice Committee. Additionally, Sylianteng volunteers to teach a 6th grade Civics and the Law class at a local school. He has received several awards since he began practicing law, including being named a SuperLawyer Rising Star, Lawyer on the Fast Track and Pennsylvania Diversity Attorney of the Year. If elected, Sylianteng will become the first Asian-American to be elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. Visit his website here.

Sarah Gillooly

Sarah Gillooly is running for Missouri House of Representatives in the 24th district. She is a progressive champion who has put forth great time and effort into the fight for equality. She worked for Missouri’s LGBTQ organization, PROMO, and serves Missouri and Kansas women in the battle for equal health benefits. Gillooly has dedicated herself to furthering the civil rights agenda through activities that have pushed for protection of federal family planning funds, the promotion of public education, and adding gender identity to the Kansas City Human Rights Ordinance. Visit her website here.

PFAW

Voter ID off the table in Missouri

The state legislature recently recessed without having rewritten a ballot measure that would have paved the way for voter ID.
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