Akin arrived in the Missouri legislature in 1988. There, friends said, he could be found strumming gospel songs on his guitar in the state Capitol’s rotunda while other politicians were heading out for beers.
Akin was also known for dressing up in a three-cornered hat and other colonial regalia for Fourth of July picnics he’d host for supporters on the lawn of the family homestead, according to Harold Hendrick, a Baptist pastor and part-time radio host who has known Akin for more than 20 years. At one gathering, Akin’s pastor dressed as a colonial Lutheran minister.
The pastor would read from Ecclesiastes, take off his colonial robes to reveal a revolutionary military uniform and then march off with George Washington to war. The lesson was one that Akin has returned to throughout his career: The Founding Fathers were deeply religious and expected that America would be, too.
“He is just a remarkable scholar of our country’s heritage,” Hendrick said. He recently sent Akin $250 as an expression of continued support.
Akin ran for Congress in 2000, telling a reporter that “today we’ve gotten confused and we think there’s no room for faith in the area of civil government.” He has not had a tough election since.
His district stretches out through the St. Louis suburbs, including wealthy areas and more rural ones. It has voted for Republicans since 1993.
On Capitol Hill, Akin has not advanced himself or his ideas very far.
Since his first election, one of his fellow freshmen — Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — has risen to become House majority leader. Akin has risen to be the fifth-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
His legislation, too, has tended to languish in obscurity.
One of Akin’s legislative successes came when the House passed his resolution calling on President George W. Bush to proclaim a national day of “humility, prayer, and fasting.” It indulged his passion for history, citing the Virginia House of Burgesses, the Continental Congress, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln.
But Bush didn’t go along.
Franks, the Arizona congressman, said Akin is well liked by other Republicans. But he is known for following his own ideas and not for the kind of favor-trading required to move up.
“I truly believe that his goal is not to gain notoriety for himself. It’s not about amassing power,” Franks said. “It’s essentially about the principles that he believes in.”
Without changing the law, however, Akin made himself a beloved figure among some Christian groups with strong stances against abortion and same-sex marriage. He has called abortion “the blackest page yet in American history.”
In 2011, he was blunt about his adversaries’ politics. “At the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God,” he told the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins in an interview. “And a belief that government should replace God.”
After 11 years, Akin has a lifetime score of 97.24 (out of 100) from the American Conservative Union. And that’s low for him: The National Right to Life Committee and Americans for Prosperity both recently gave him 100 out of 100.
On Wednesday, his longtime allies were hoping that Akin, never very interested in intra-party politics, could ignore his party’s wrath this time and survive.
“Unfortunately, Todd has given a gift to the other side that they just love,” said Newcombe at Truth in Action Ministries. “Personally, I’m just waiting for the news cycle to end.”