Rep. Akin Chooses Lonely, Quixotic Road into Senate Race
Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin has no support from fellow Republicans in the upper chamber, a dried-up well of national campaign cash infusions, and conservatives begging him to step aside for the good of the party and the GOP's hopes of retaking the Senate.
And yet, as the time for Akin to seamlessly withdraw from the race to unseat incumbent Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) ran out late this afternoon, Akin insisted that he could still win and would be staying in the race.
In his defiant declarations of bucking the tidal wave of will against his continued candidacy, the six-term congressman seemed bent on trying to paint himself as the ultimate anti-establishment candidate: one who wouldn't be bullied by the media, sitting Republican lawmakers, or even a presidential candidate, but who believed so much in the principle of a stronger America that he wouldn't hand the task off to someone else.
"Akin is still standing," declared the homepage of his campaign website.
"The people from Missouri who elected me know I’m not perfect. They don’t make perfect people. We all make mistakes. When you make a mistake you tell people you’re sorry, you don’t try and hide it. I made a mistake and I’m sorry," Akin said on his site, emphasis added by the candidate, asking visitors to "chip-in $3 as a sign of support of my continued candidacy" and asking for petition signatures to pledge "We the people stand with pro-life candidate Todd Akin!"
"I apologized but the liberal media is trying to make me drop out. Please stand w/ me tonight by signing my petition at http://www.akin.org/still-standing," he tweeted two hours after the dropout deadline.
Akin began the day, in which GOP leaders were looking forward to a withdrawal by 5 p.m. Central time (and had reason to believe he might, given that he reportedly recruited help to make that transition), with an ad in which he asked for "forgiveness" for how he “used the wrong words in the wrong way” in talking about rape and pregnancy.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” the Missouri lawmaker said on a local TV station Sunday.
In a quixotic pledge to "rush to the gunfire," Akin rushed to the side of friendly radio hosts today, and one who only increased the pressure on Akin to drop out as the time ticked down.
“One word, one sentence, one day out of place and all of a sudden the entire establishment turns on you,” Akin told Dana Loesch on her show. Akin said he had been misunderstood, and was “making the point that there were those who were making false claims, like those who basically created Roe v. Wade.”
"I want to make one thing absolutely clear. We are going to continue with this U.S. Senate race," Akin definitively told Mike Huckabee on Tuesday, whose show was the first one on which Akin appeared after the scandal broke.
Akin was a no-show last night on Piers Morgan after his campaign staff told the CNN host that he'd appear. But he did show up for the second time in as many days on Sean Hannity's radio show, where the conservative host browbeat the congressman about staying in the race despite the damage he could inflict on the party.
“You misspeak one time, one place, one word,” Akin said. “Don’t you think that this is a little hyperbole going on here?”
The candidate said he had spoken with his House colleague, Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who advised him to think about stepping aside.
“He recognized I had to make a tough decision here,” Akin said. “…He didn’t tell me what to do; that’s because he’s a very respectful and decent guy.”
Though GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn't expressly join the chorus yesterday demanding that Akin step aside -- voices that included several senators -- he followed up with another condemnation statement today asking just that.
“As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," Romney said. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.”
On Hannity's show, Akin seemed miffed at the Romney statement. "Why couldn't he run his race and I run mine?" the congressman said.
But can this crusader defiance win?