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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Family Research Council defends Todd Akin

20

August

The Romney/Ryan campaign may have distanced itself from comments made about rape and abortion by Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman, but the Family Research Council isn’t.

“The Family Research Council strongly supports Todd Akin,” said Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council political action committee. “This is a case of ‘gotcha’ politics. Todd Akin is getting a very bad break here.”

The conservative Christian advocacy group has a lot of influence on Republicans, and on Monday, its president, Tony Perkins, said he wrote specific planks in the platform that was being approved by a delegate committee this week at the Marriott Waterside.

Akin is challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat, which many political observers said leaned Republican. But that equation may have changed after Akin told a St. Louis TV host over the weekend that during cases of “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow prevent conception from taking place.

Democrats pounced on the comments, and many Republicans, including the Romney/Ryan campaign, distanced themselves from the comments. Sen. Scott Brown, who is running for re-election in Massachusetts in a close race with Elizabeth Warren, denounced the comments, saying he found them “outageous, inappropriate and wrong.”

During a Monday news conference Monday afternoon at the Marriott Waterside, Perkins and Mackey said they hadn’t heard the comments made by Akin, but nevertheless defended him.

When told about what Akin said, Mackey replied, “I don’t know the science, I just know ‘gotcha’ politics.”

Meanwhile, unprompted, Perkins slammed Brown.

“Scott Brown better be careful,” Perkins said. “He’s off the reservation on his comments. His support among conservatives is very shallow.”

Asked if he opposed abortion in the cases of rape, Perkins refused to answer.

“We’re not going to get sidetracked on something that’s not on the forefront of what’s being discussed,” Perkins said. “We’re going to keep our eye on the ball.”

Perkins held the news conference during the Republicans meetings on the platform that will be voted on by the party delegates next week. He and Kelly Shackleford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, touted the publication of think tank’s “The Survey of Religious Hostility in America.”

Last week, a security guard for the Family Research Council was shot, an attack that Perkins told Fox News earlier on Monday that the media ignored. But he didn’t mention the shooting during the 1 p.m. news conference at the Marriott Waterside. The survey of attacks documents mostly legal challenges to displays of religion. Shackleford said more than 600 cases of religious prejudice in the legal system in the study, including cases of a judge threatening a high school student of jail if she didn’t remove references to Jesus in her graduation speech.

“If we don’t address this, every American will feel the consequences,” Perkins told reporters.

Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 3:10pm]

    

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