Approximately 200 women from the St. Louis area gathered Tuesday night in Chesterfield, at Pillar of the Valley, to show their support for Todd Akin.
They were part of a group called Missouri Women Standing with Todd Akin.
The event marked the Republican nominee's first campaign stop in St. Louis since he returned to the campaign trail after regrouping his campaign amid calls from many in the GOP to drop out of the race against Democrat Claire McCaskill. Akin, a U.S. Representative from Wildwood, has been under fire following his controversial comments about pregnancy and "legitimate rape" last month in a television interview with FOX2.
“We felt like women are able to have the capacity to better translate (support for Akin) to other women,” said Heather Kesselring of Maryland Heights. “Personally, I’ve known Todd for 22 years, and he’s a phenomenal man of character.”
Kesselring's message to the group was to go out and talk and network, and build support for Akin.
A video featuring women described by campaign literature as a “single mother, saved alcoholic and student,” a “middle-income mother,” a “married mother of 13,” and a “doctor in a pediatric subspecialty and a mom of four children” helped introduce the candidate.
Akin spoke for only two and a half minutes, and had no comment for reporters in attendance.
He told the crowd about being with his mother in Concord, MA, when he was 7 years old. He said she later helped him memorize a poem, the Concord Hymn, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which commemorated the Battle of Concord. He said the women in the room can “pass on that blessing of freedom to our children and grandchildren.”
Phyllis Schlafly, a leader in the conservative movement and author of the book, A Choice, Not An Echo, was there, and talked about how the event went toward repairing damage done by Akin’s “6-second mistake.”
“So many people have made so many mistakes, I think that’s going to be forgotten,” she said. “Of course this war against women is the phoniest thing that any politician ever thought up. Todd Akin is a wonderful man and he stands for the real conservative message.”
Schlafly also announced that former House Speaker and Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich would be in St. Louis Monday for an Akin campaign fundraiser, which is significant on several levels. The National Republican Senate Campaign Committee and other outside funding sources for advertising have shunned Akin since the FOX2 interview.
Holding the event Monday would also come after a practical deadline later this week for a candidate to take their name off the November ballot with a court order.