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Huckabee backs Akin, slams 'Republican establishment,' raising prospect of split in GOP

Don't worry, Todd Akin. You've got a friend in Mike Huckabee.

Don't worry, Todd Akin. You've got a friend in Mike Huckabee. And a vocal friend, at that.

The former Arkansas governor bucked the GOP establishment on Thursday, defending the Missouri Senate candidate who's under fire for his comments on "legitimate rape.".

Huckabee, in an e-mail to supporters, accused the "Republican establishment" of a "carefully orchestrated and systematic attack" on Akin. 

"The Party’s leaders have for reasons that aren’t rational, left [Akin] behind on the political battlefield, wounded and bleeding, a casualty of his self-inflicted, but not intentional wound," Huckabee wrote. "...His was a serious mistake, but it was blown out of proportion not by the left, but by Akin’s own Republican Party. " 

Mitt Romney, Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and National Republican Senatorial Committee boss John Cornyn have all urged the Missourian to reconsider his candidacy. 

Huckabee attack on party leaders comes just days before he's scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on Monday, raising the fear that the rift over Akin could burst into the open at the worst possible time for the party. 

Although he's the biggest GOP name to defend Akin so far, some conservative groups, including Tony Perkins' Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony organization have also backed the conservative lawmaker lately. 

On Politics Nation Thursday, Patricia Murphy, founder of Citizen Jane, said the split was bad news for Mitt Romney. 

"The split in the Republican party is the storyline Mitt Romney has wanted to avoid since he got into this race in the first place," Murphy said. "For the fight to break open on the Monday night of the convention is the worst case scenario for Mitt Romney."

She said Team Romney should tell Huckabee to stay away from talking about Akin at the convention. Huckabee, she noted, is "a man who says what he wants."