TAMPA, FL — If Missouri's Republican delegates remain angry over the way presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to the controversial remarks made by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, they were doing a good job of hiding it Tuesday.
Politico.com and other media outlets reported this week that some delegates were upset because Romney has said Akin should drop out of the U.S. Senate race. However, by Tuesday, delegates attending the Republican National Convention here were carefully toeing the line between respecting Romney's decision while still showing support for Akin.
On a day that started with the Missourians receiving a and ended with Romney winning the party's nomination, delegates made it clear they wanted to put the Akin issue behind them and focus on the task at hand — securing GOP victories in November.
The Republican congressman became the focus of a national controversy after during an Aug. 19 interview with Charles Jaco on FOX2-KTVI. Romney and other top party leaders quickly against incumbent Democrat Clarie McCaskill, but .
So was Romney right to ask Akin to drop out?
“I don’t fault Romney for what he did because the Democrats contend there’s a war on women and they’re going to jump on this as being anti-woman, which it’s not," said Jennifer Meyer, an alternate delegate from O'Fallon. “But as far as people asking him to step down from the race, I don’t think that was necessary.”
Other delegates were a bit more difficult to pin down when asked about Romney's reaction
"I feel like Gov. Romney realizes how important this (Senate) election is, and that what Congressman Akin did has hurt the party," said Cody Baker, a 20-year-old delegate from Festus in Jefferson County. "And if Gov. Romney feels that would have been the best decision, then he has the right to say that...I wouldn’t say he was incorrect in saying it, and I won’t say that he was correct in saying it. He has the right to make his opinion known."
Zoe Soto-Gilbert, an alternate delegate from O’Fallon who has been a Romney supporter since the 2008 election, said Romney and party leaders had to hold Akin accountable for his "deplorable" comments.
"I appreciate the fact that he was called on it by everybody, including Gov. Romney, because it shows that when we make mistakes, we try to help each other recognize the mistakes and correct it," she said.
But when asked whether she thought Akin should have dropped out of the race, Soto-Gilbert didn't have an answer.
"I don’t know if he should have withdrawn," she said. "It’s his decision."
While some delegates were hesitant about taking sides in the controversy, they aggreed that Akin's comments were gaffes and don't represent the kind of person he is.
George Engelbach, a former state representative from Hillsboro who attended Tuesday's breakfast meeting dressed as Abraham Lincoln, worked with Akin when they both were in the state House of Representatives.
"He is an awesome individual," he said. "I had an office next to him for two years. He worked late, he was always conscientious, he was always courteous, he was always kind. I never, ever heard him say a mean word about anyone."
While delegates may differ on whether Romney should have gotten involved in the controversy, they agree the issue won't hurt the level of support for the presidential nominee.
"This has not affected the Republican party's enthusiasm for him," Baker said. "People may disagree, but I don’t think it’s going to effect his support in any way."