ROLLA, Mo. — Janet Huckabee met Rep. Todd Akin for the first time Monday morning.
Huckabee, the former first lady of Arkansas, and her husband, Mike, were among the first Republicans to back Akin after his remark about “legitimate rape” garnered national attention and Republicans called for Akin to quit the race. And by Monday night, she had spoken at two events for the beleaguered candidate for U.S. Senate— with three more scheduled across the state in the next two days, a physical embodiment of many social conservative leaders’ decision to show their loyalty to Akin, a longtime ally.
“It made my blood boil,” Huckabee said of the Republican Party’s abandonment of Akin. “There’s the wrath of God, and then there’s the wrath of Janet.”
In recent weeks, some of the Republicans who disowned Akin have renewed their support for him: Sen. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, offered his endorsement, as did former Sen. Kit Bond. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have backed Akin as well.
But those Republicans have steered clear of the campaign trail or any other active support for the candidate.
Not Janet Huckabee.
“I thought when we have wounded soldiers, we go in and help them,” Huckabee told the crowd. “We don’t bury the wounded.”
“I love her,” one woman reacted, whispering enthusiastically to another. “Amen,” others in the crowd offered.
The event was the second in a string of five “women’s rallies” this week that will focus on shoring up support for Akin among female voters.
But among Akin’s most loyal supporters, there is confidence that women were not offended by Akin’s comments, and that the gender gap is not, in fact, as dire as many people believe it to be.
“I think the national media would have you think that women jumped ship, but I don’t think that’s true,” said Leann Green, a real estate agent from Texas County, Mo.
On the issue of abortion in particular, many female supporters of Akin expressed disappointment with how Akin’s anti-abortion stance has been characterized.
“That’s the bad thing about it, it’s become politicized,” said Marlowe Scott, a retiree from Rolla. “It’s not a choice, it’s a child.”
“Women need to think more about family,” she added.
But, Huckabee told BuzzFeed, after she had finished introducing herself around the room, “I don’t think most women just sit around and contemplate” social issues such as abortion. Instead, she said, the economy and the federal debt would drive support for Akin among women.
And so, too, should those issues inspire the Republican Party to return to Akin, Huckabee said.
“I think it would be helpful if that money came back,” Huckabee said. “They’re putting it into other races that aren’t important. I think it’s pride.”
“It’s not just about what happens here in Missouri,” she added later. “What the Senate does — there are only 100 of them. It impacts all of us.”