Depending on whom you ask, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., represents either the best or the worst of the Republican Party.
He's everything that's wrong with the GOP - a living, breathing impediment to the rebranding effort Republicans are undergoing in in the wake of the 2012 election.
That, or he's a profile in courage, and exactly the kind of passionately conservative lawmaker the GOP needs to stir up enthusiasm among a base that has become deeply skeptical of the party's leadership.
The problem for Republicans as they fend off obsolescence in the wake of a 2012 drubbing is that they can't seem to agree on which story is true.
A deeply devout religious conservative, Franks scored a significant victory this week when the House Judiciary Committee passed a measure that would outlaw abortion nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged to bring the bill for a full vote in the chamber.
But Franks marred his own victory shortly before it was secured, igniting a hurricane of controversy by claiming that the "incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."
Many saw in the comment an echo of former Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" gaffe during his 2012 Senate race, fretting about the damage Franks had done to the party's brand. Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee fighting for a U.S. Senate seat in deep-blue Massachusetts, called Franks a "moron."
Franks complained to a gathering of social conservatives in Washington for the annual Faith and Freedom Summit that he had been put through the "spin dryer" after his comment went viral, according to Politico, but the drama that attended his remark ably demonstrated the tightrope Republicans are walking as they continue their soul-searching.
The energy among social conservatives in the Republican grassroots has scarcely waned - it can be a powerful motivator for action in Congress, and an invaluable source of boots-on-the-ground come Election Day. But some of the rougher edges of social conservatives' doctrine can also be a red flag for the younger voters and women that Republicans must win if they hope to emerge once more as a viable national party.
"Leading the movement"
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which helps elect anti-abortion rights women to public office, hailed the House's abortion ban as a sign of social conservatives' enduring clout in an interview with CBSNews.com.
"There has not been a bill like this, ever," she said, noting the measure would effectively outlaw a significant number of abortions. Dannenfelser called Boehner's decision to bring the bill to the floor an "indicator of strength" among social conservatives and a sign that the party's leadership is "not moving away" from their issues.
"So to that extent, am I happy with our place in the Republican Party at this point? I'm optimistic, but I'm never certain - trust but verify."
Thomas Peters, the communications director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which opposes same-sex marriage, agreed with Dannenfelser, telling CBSNews.com there was "no hemming or hawing" among the GOP rank-and-file about the abortion ban.
"The pro-life issue is very strong," he said, but "we have huge work to do on the marriage issue," which is a "more challenging" when it comes to a "younger demographic."
But despite the challenge, Peters didn't buy the argument that Republicans are losing younger voters on same-sex marriage: "I don't see that."
He derided those who would advise Republican candidates to soften their stance on social issues to attract new voters. "A lot of GOP political consultants make this claim, but their candidates lose," he said. "Republicans should stop apologizing for their pro-marriage views."
Peters reserved particularly strong words for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, saying the prospect of NOM supporting a primary challenger to Portman during his next election is "absolutely on the table."
On their broader place in the Republican Party, Peters said social conservatives "are not boots on the ground, they're leading the movement."