WASHINGTON -- It has been a little less than a month since Senate candidate and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) was condemned by his party for saying women can "shut down" their bodies against pregnancy during "legitimate rape."
On Friday, some top social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit in Washington said it's time for party leaders to move on.
Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council's super PAC, FRCAction, said she was bothered by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan coming out against Akin. The Republican Party as a whole should "come back to the fold" and get behind his candidacy, she told HuffPost.
"It's insane that they did what they did in the first place," she said. "I don't understand why the long knives came out for him in the first place."
Her organization has stuck behind Akin, although Mackey has called his statement "wrong, plain and simple."
Most Republicans, while also calling Akin's statement wrong, have been less forgiving. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Akin to leave the race and announced the party will no longer assist him with his campaign. Romney also said Akin should drop his bid for the Senate.
But Akin insisted he will stay in the race, and so far has stuck to that promise.
Despite concerns from some, including Priebus, that Akin's presence will hurt the party's chances of achieving a majority in the Senate, American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer said he doesn't expect the controversy to carry much consequence leading up to November.
Just days after Akin’s comments, Fischer, who is fervently anti-abortion rights, leaped to the Missouri congressman’s defense, stating on his talk radio show “Focal Point” that a “real, genuine rape, a case of forcible rape” would make it "difficult" for a woman to conceive a child.
He stood by his support for Akin on Friday, telling HuffPost that his only concern on the issue of abortion is that Ryan has been forced to adopt Romney’s position that supports exceptions in the instance of rape, incest and risk to the mother’s life.
But Fischer also said Romney’s position “will still protect 99 percent of the unborn children,” which is statistically true for abortions related to rape and incest, but misleading given that many women don’t report rape and incest.
“What that means is there’s still obviously a very clear choice on the sanctity-of-life issue,” he added.
Prominent evangelical activist Gary Bauer dismissed the “legitimate rape” dialogue as a “silly conversation,” charging that it is far more concerning that President Barack Obama is “interested in having all abortions legal, all the time.”
The conservative pundit also emphasized his support for Akin’s decision to stay in the Missouri Senate race, noting that “Todd Akin on a bad day, with a misstatement, is better than Claire McCaskill on the best day she's had in the United States Senate.”
Bauer would not explicitly say whether the GOP should re-embrace Akin, but advised that Republican voters in Missouri have selected Akin as their candidate.
“I think the party ought to do what parties normally do,” Bauer told HuffPost. “Attempt to win every race they can so that they can be the governing party in Washington, D.C."