Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Mike Huckabee participated in a conference call Friday night with hundreds of Baptist pastors and Christian talk radio hosts in Missouri that was organized to coordinate a robust defense of Rep. Todd Akin as he faces pressure from Washington Republicans to drop his Senate bid against Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Akin told reporters in St. Louis today that he would not quit the race.
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Speaking harshly about establishment Republicans who have tried to force Akin from the Missouri race, Huckabee at one point compared the National Republican Senatorial Committee to "union goons" who "kneecap" their enemies.
The former Arkansas governor said party bosses were "opening up rounds and rounds" of ammunition on Akin and "then running over with tanks and trucks and leaving him to be ravaged by the other side."
“This is unprecedented, to see to this orchestrated attempt to humiliate and devastate a fellow Republican,” Huckabee said of Akin, who has deep ties to the Christian conservative movement. Akin spent Thursday in Florida meeting with evangelical leaders and evaluating his political future.
Huckabee said he spoke directly with NRSC officials this week and was assured that they would begin to dial back their offensive against Akin. He said party officials specifically told him they would stop pressuring Akin’s consultants and campaign vendors to drop the congressman as a client.
A Republican source provided CNN with the dial-in information for the call, which was convened by Don Hinkle, the editor of ‘The Pathway,’ a publication of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Also speaking on the call were David Barton, the influential Texas pastor; former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts; Baptist pastor David Baker; and Dick Bott, the founder of a Christian radio network based in Missouri.
Huckabee, who was speaking from his Fox News office in New York, said the actions of Republican leaders in Washington threatened to "discourage" Christian conservatives and activists from going to bat for the GOP in November.
At one point, Huckabee mused about whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney affected his poll numbers in Missouri by not coming to Akin's defense. Romney encouraged Akin to leave the race after his "legitimate rape" comments set off a political firestorm earlier this week.
Acknowledging the political damage done to Akin, Huckabee encouraged the pastors and radio hosts to aggressively defend Akin to their congregations and listeners.
"The poll numbers need to come back up," he said. "Todd needs to show that he can raise money and be competitive. That will be a game changer. If not, the pressure will still be there for Todd to exit the race and clear the field for somebody else."
A spokesman for the NRSC, Brian Walsh, took issue with Huckabee's comments Friday.
"We have a great deal of respect for Governor Huckabee and regret that we do not see eye to eye with him on this race," Walsh said in an email to CNN. "It's important to set the record straight though that the types of tactics he describes simply did not happen and further, no one at the NRSC has even spoken with the Governor this week."