By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
The controversy over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s abortion comments was started by a George Soros-funded Democratic Party Super-PAC and the “bait” was taken by Republican Party officials who wanted him out of the race for other reasons, says John Putnam, Missouri state coordinator for the national Tea Party Patriots group.
The Super-PAC, American Bridge, was started by former conservative turned liberal and homosexual activist David Brock, who also runs the Soros-funded Media Matters group. American Bridge sends “trackers” to follow conservative and Republican candidates in the hope that the candidate makes some controversial statements that can be distorted or taken out of context and used for partisan political purposes.
In this case, Putnam says, Republicans are the ones who used the material against Akin disseminated by American Bridge. “The first few days after the Democrats put out this distorted [abortion] comment, it was the Republican hierarchy that really acted like sharks in the water, striking this fresh meat,” Putnam said.
Putnam says the reason the Republican officials wanted him out of the race had nothing to do with abortion. Rather, he said, Akin voted as a member of Congress against several Bush Administration big government proposals, has a record of opposing “the party establishment,” and figures to be a Tea Party senator in Washington, D.C. if he wins the Senate race against Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Putnam says he thinks the GOP establishment doesn’t want any more independent voices in the Senate Republican Caucus. “I look at the role of the Tea Party senators who have come along the last couple years. They have shifted the balance away from the more moderate Republican establishment. I have to wonder how afraid they are to elect more of these Tea Party types,” he said.
Akin, who represents Missouri’s 12th District and has been described as an “avid student of the U.S. Constitution,” voted against President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” bill to expand the federal role in education; against Bush’s extravagant expansion of Medicare through what is called Part D, or prescription drug coverage; and against Bush’s federal bailout of Wall Street after the economic collapse in September 2008.
Akin’s website describes him as “one of just 16 legislators who opposed the series of bailouts which rewarded irresponsible behavior with taxpayer dollars in 2008 and 2009.”
Putnam, who also serves as chairman of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee, said that party officials “didn’t think Akin could win” the Missouri Republican Senate primary. But he said Akin has a history of pulling upsets and, with the support of conservative Christians and Tea Party activists, did just that on August 7. Akin beat former state treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner.
Using the flap over abortion as an excuse, Putnam told Accuracy in Media, Republican Party officials then began a “desperate” campaign to engineer his withdrawal from the race.
Putnam said that Bush’s deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, who just apologized for a joke urging Akin’s murder, had been part of an effort to persuade Akin to vote for Medicare expansion under Bush. “Karl Rove and George Bush called him on the phone in the middle of the night when they were holding the voting board open for four hours on that vote, and he never buckled,” Putnam said. Akin told the President, “We can’t afford this and it’s not the role of the federal government to do this.”
He said Akin took the same principled stand against “No Child Left Behind,” the Bush federal educational proposal backed by liberals like Ted Kennedy.
Several prominent Republicans and conservatives have urged Akin to quit the Senate race, even though the campaign against him was started by American Bridge, the Soros-funded group.
Rodell Mollineau, President of American Bridge, sent an August 28 email to his supporters boasting about the role his organization played. He said, “When our trackers caught Rep. Todd Akin in an interview talking about ‘legitimate rape,’ his invitation to the Republican Convention in Tampa was revoked. Now, news reports show that the fat cats of the Republican Party—the insider lobbyists who call the shots and fund the Tea Party agenda—have decided to sit this one out.”
Even before Akin’s abortion comments, American Bridge was targeting him on behalf of the Democratic Senate incumbent McCaskill. When former Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee defended Akin, telling conservatives to stick with him over the controversy, American Bridge targeted Huckabee, demanding that Mitt Romney “drop Todd Akin-backer and Republican leader Mike Huckabee from his prime time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.”
Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times is one of the few reporters noting the key role played by American Bridge in the controversy. She reported, “What got the story out was a Democratic tracker for American Bridge, a pro-Obama SuperPAC. Ty Matsdorf, a senior adviser for American Bridge, told me their Missouri tracker saw the interview live and flagged it for his bosses. They posted a clip on YouTube and sent it around to some reporters. The explosion was just a matter of time.”
Putnam said the rush by GOP officials to jump on the “bandwagon” calling for Akin to go, created by the Democratic Super-PAC, has fractured the Republican base in Missouri, “more than what Congressman Akin said.”
“I’ve reviewed several times what he said. It doesn’t seem like anybody cares what he was trying to say,” Putnam said, calling the comments a “bad word choice” on the likelihood of pregnancy resulting from forcible rape. “If we had closed ranks behind him, this would be long over,” he said.
Citing Akin’s refusal to vote for the big government policies of the Republican Bush Administration, Putnam said he doesn’t think Akin will bow to Republican or other pressure and withdraw from the Senate race.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].