WASHINGTON -- In pitching his Senate bid before a St. Louis County audience, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) glossed over the controversy that has plagued him since he claimed that a "hatred of God" informs liberal beliefs.
At an event sponsored by Citizens Alliance for Missouri Patriots on Thursday, Akin focused on debt negotiations and the situation in Israel, ignoring local media's questions about his recent incendiary remarks, Patch.com's Gregg Palermo reports.
"He refused to answer media questions as he left the event and made his way to the parking lot," Palermo reported. "When pressed as to why he would not answer questions, Akin said the event, which was slated to begin at 7 p.m. and end at 10 p.m., had run two hours late. The candidate pulled out of the parking lot by 9:45 p.m."
During a radio interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins last week, Akin said he believes that "at the heart of liberalism, really, is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.”
The comments -- which came during a discussion about NBC's redaction of “under God” from its broadcast of the pledge of allegiance during the U.S. Open -- have enraged local religious leaders, who called Akin's statement an attack on liberal and progressive people of faith and demanded he reconsider his moral priorities.
"Such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation’s political dialogue and are unworthy of a public servant who claims to represent the interests of all of his constituents," wrote a number of Missouri's progressive Christian leaders in a statement.
Akin apologized for his comments on Tuesday, saying they were not directed at individuals but rather at liberal ideology as a whole.
"My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism, not at any specific individual," he wrote. "If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies."
Akin faces competition from former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, another GOP candidate challenging Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill for her U.S Senate seat.