When Todd Akin's political career got short-circuited by a wave of media coverage of a single comment he made about rape in connection with abortion, he said he found out how nasty liberal Democrats could be, twisting and turning his comments in ways that stretch the imagination.
But he also learned of a new Republican political strategy that continues to unfold in the 2014 primary season.
Some fellow Republicans reached out to offer help in 2012 when Akin needed it most, providing fundraising and moral support in his ultimately unsuccessful Senate race against Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Others left him lying in the political field, hoping he would waste away and never be heard from again.
He relates the story in his new book, "Firing Back," and in a recent interview with WND CEO Joseph Farah.
Akin recalled the lessons of experiencing what Farah described as a public show trial. He not only learned who his friends are – people like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Tony Perkins and David Barton – but he discovered a new Republican strategy promoted by Karl Rove.
Akin, known as a traditional Reagan conservative not afraid to speak on social issues from a Christian perspective, felt the brunt of Rove’s throw-away strategy.
"Republicans are known for abandoning their wounded in the field. They didn’t just abandon me, they came back and tried to do me in," he said. "There is a kind of new way of thinking, and Rove is pretty much leading on this, but Republican leadership is buying this baloney, including our own senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt.
"They’re all part of this. And they’re using me as an example, saying a conservative can’t get elected, because ‘remember Todd Akin.'"
Akin isn't buying it.
"Now just stop right there," he said. "First of all, it doesn’t even fit on face value. When I went in as a state House member, I told people I am a Reagan conservative and I’m proud of it, and it never changed for 24 years. Anyone who knows my history, the Democrats and liberals all agree, Akin's a conservative. No one will argue that. And I got elected with great re-election numbers for 24 years."
He hopes young conservatives will take away encouragement from his successes at the ballot box.
"If there’s someone who is listening to this interview and they think, 'You know, I'd like to get a blow for freedom in and I’m kind of interested in running for office.’ Let me encourage them," he said. "Because they’re trying to say (conservative) Republicans can’t get elected. That’s baloney.”
He described the way the new strategy played out recently in Mississippi during the primary race for U.S. Senate between establishment incumbent Thad Cochran and tea-party conservative Chris McDaniel.
“So now they’re going to abuse that in this way. And Mississippi is a case example. The Senate takes the money they get in contributions and go into a state in a primary and they select the candidate that they want. It's a selection process," Akin said. "I believe that they’re wrong. I believe there should be an election process.
"Let the primary Republican voters in a state do their thing," he continued. "I went through this process, a year-and-a-half, spent a couple of million dollars, got outspent four to one, all kinds of debates, all kinds of forums, you travel around the state until you feel like your wheels are going to fall off. And in the end, when it’s all said and done, you have a primary election and the Republicans choose who they want. … it’s called an election. They’re saying ‘we’re going to short circuit the process, we’re going to dump millions of dollars and pick our candidate. The arrogance of that is noteworthy. But, No. 2, it’s also stupid.”
Akin believes the long-term cost of this strategy could be devastating to the Republican Party if conservatives are alienated.
“It’s stupid in two ways,” he said. “It’s really stupid because you’re antagonizing all of the Republican base, particularly the conservatives, who tend to be the hardest working Republicans. So, you’ve got two candidates who are running for Senate in Mississippi, they’ve donated to one. ... Its basically going to anesthetize all of the base out there. It’s a very, very bad strategy.”
Akin implied Republicans may have adopted their new strategy out of fear, after they saw what happened to him.
“I think the Republicans are so afraid of the Democrat and the Democrat liberal media machine. They’re so afraid of that that they’re unwilling to go and rescue their wounded,” he said.
He said the Republicans don’t have the luxury of a powerful media machine to do their bidding whenever a Democrat does something that most Americans would find outrageous.
"It’s not just the dumb things the Democrat liberals say, but it’s the dumb things that they do, and the media never calls them out," he said. "Here it is Todd Akin talks about legitimate rape instead of legitimate case of rape, and I didn’t immediately identify that stress is what I was talking about, and (it turns into) 'Akin thinks women can’t get pregnant when they’re raped,' which is the exact opposite of what I said.
"And so all of a sudden I go from respectable congressman to the worst criminal in the world in a period of a couple of weeks."
Akin, continuing to lay out his case for a double standard in American politics today, contrasts the treatment of his comments on rape with the treatment of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s comments and actions.
"Now go forward two weeks (in 2012), just for the raw hypocrisy of this, and you have Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker at the Democrat convention.
“Now if you set aside the sworn testimony of (Juanita) Broaddrick, who says that Bill Clinton raped her. Now let’s say that ‘oh she’s just making that up,’ which I don’t believe. Set that aside and you still have a man with an extensive history of sexual abuse and sexual indecency to women. And what happens after he speaks? Everyone claps for him. Now to me that’s affirming who he is and what he stands for.
"To me that’s a Democrat war on women."
That war extends, in Akin’s view, to the "current abortion policy all over the world being promoted and encouraged by this (Obama) administration."
"And in India and Pakistan those abortions, many times, are being used for sex selection because people want a male child, killing little girls. I’d call that a war on women,” he said. "Where's the media on that? There's a difference between saying something and raping somebody. There’s a difference between a word and actions. But it doesn’t seem like the media. … They have it almost backwards."
But perhaps the most egregious case of "double standard" in Akin's arsenal of Firing Back, comes in the case of Hillary Clinton, starting back in her days as a trial lawyer but coming back to haunt her more recently.
"She’s got this rapist who she’s representing that raped a little 12-year-old girl. And she uses her authority and power as an attorney to basically destroy the character of the 12-year-old girl to get her client, who she knows is guilty, off the hook. Then wait. Now you have 10 years go by, she does an interview, and she’s still laughing about it. That's a democrat war on women. Where is the media?"
"The media has some kind of a trust to present some form of truth and they’re absent without leave," Akin continued. "And they’re being deceitful and they’re taking voters who don’t know what’s going on and using them as pawns to advance a horrible agenda."
Akin said the term "double standard" doesn’t even adequately describe what’s going on in this political culture war.
"This is deceptive, it's evil, it’s covering up lies," he said. "This is so out of control that it's sort of big shots pushing America into a very dangerous place. Always problematic when a government absorbs too much power. So they are destroying our country and the primary weapon they use is this character assassination. To undermine a little girl, who is trying to get justice. I believe in politics people believe what they want to believe, not what is true."