Democrats say Mitt Romney has a Todd Akin problem and, by extension, a Mike Huckabee problem. The conservative radio host has reaffirmed his support for the embattled Senate nominee, just before he’s set to speak in a primetime slot in Tampa Monday night. Democrats are urging the GOP to boot Huckabee, one of its biggest social conservative stars, from the lineup.
American Bridge, the Democratic tracking firm, is launching an online drive to push Huckabee from the Tampa podium next week. The group says that keeping Huckabee on the schedule suggests the GOP isn’t serious about distancing itself from Akin and his stated views on female biology.
On Thursday, Huckabee took his party to task for calling on Akin to quit the Senate race in Missouri following Akin’s “legitimate rape” implosion, making the former Arkansas governor the most prominent of Akin’s remaining conservative defenders.
Huckabee backed Akin in the three-way GOP primary, along with other social conservatives like Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Steve King. Huckabee hosted Akin on his radio show for the first interview after the “legitimate rape” comment blew up, and again after Republicans including Mitt Romney shunned Akin and called on him to quit. Huckabee apparently had had enough.
“Who ordered this ‘Code Red’ on Akin?” Huckabee wrote in an email to supporters Thursday. “I will join Todd as often as I can, in his fight for our Party’s pro-life policies, traditional marriage and our efforts to rein in the massive expansion of government under President Obama.”
That set up a potentially awkward situation for Republicans, who scheduled Huckabee to speak in the same primetime block Monday night as Ann Romney. (On Friday morning, reports surfaced that Ann Romney’s speech may be moved from Monday night after TV networks said they wouldn’t air it.)
So far, Republicans won’t say whether Huckabee’s support for Akin and will change anything Tampa. A spokesperson for convention organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.
As long as Huckabee’s scheduled to speak, Democrats say they can keep talking about Akin. That’s a conversation that forces the GOP and Romney to either distance itself from parts of their social conservative base, or risk further alienating female voters who advocates say have been turned off by Akin’s words and the GOP platform’s inclusion of a ban on abortion with no mention of exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
On Friday, American Bridge launched an online petition drive and web video aimed at pressuring Romney to drop Huckabee.
“Millions of Americans will be watching,” the group’s petition to Romney reads. “Is Mike Huckabee’s pro-Akin, anti-woman message what you want to represent your campaign?”
Here’s the video:
The American Bridge campaign will be promoted with online ads and the Twitter hashtag campaign #DropHuck, according to a source who shared details of the campaign exclusively with TPM.