Is Todd Akin going to drop out? Update: Tea Party group says Akin should drop out

posted at 4:01 pm on August 20, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

His Twitter feed says no:

The tide is rising against him after offensive and erroneous comments on rape and the female body threw his campaign into the national spotlight and high-profile turmoil this weekend.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post reports that she talked to a GOP aide who said, if he stays in the race, he “gets no assistance, no money, no surrogates.”

Ann Coulter tweets:

Crossroads GPS has yanked its ads:

Another ominous sign for embattled Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin: the heavyweight conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are pulling out of the state and halting their advertising against Akin’s opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“The act speaks for itself,” Crossroads spokesman Nate Hodson said Monday.

Sen. Scott Brown has called on Akin to withdraw from the race. (Correction: I was unable to find my original sourcing for Sen. Olympia Snowe’s position on Akin, so I’m removing it until I can track down that story. Sorry about that!)

Sen. John Cornyn’s statement sounds like a suggestion. Cornyn is head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee:

“Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service.”

Phil Klein notes that the GOP in Missouri would be better off picking another candidate, and still has time to do so:

Politically, a lot of the analysis as to whether Akin should drop out of the race has focused on whether he could still recover from this horrendous statement and win. A more important question is what kind of senator Republicans would be getting if he could hang on and they could gain a majority in the Senate. Anybody capable of making a statement as simultaneously offensive and moronic as Akin’s is likely to make more such statements. That means, even if Akin wins, he’s likely to embarrass his party for six years and undermine the pro-life cause.

Missouri Republicans have other choices. Both Sarah Steelman and John Brunner led troubled Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in polls taken during the GOP primary, and both were closer to the Tea Party than Akin (Steelman was endorsed by Sarah Palin). If Akin drops out of the race by tomorrow, the Missouri GOP could still pick another candidate. Akin has caused enough damage already. He should do the right thing and step aside and make room for somebody else while there’s still time.

I’m with Phil on this. This kind of statement is the last thing Republicans need when they’re already forced to fend off false allegations of misogyny and insensitivity over contraception and “women’s issues.” High-profile instances of real insensitivity do damage to the Republican brand and conservative causes alike. Yes, Akin is paying a higher price for this gaffe than he would another because it plays into an established narrative the Left and the media favor, but we have to ask ourselves whether we want someone representing us who is prone to such boneheaded pronouncements. It sounded as if he’s never thought through his pro-life stance before. There are plenty of ways to communicate his position on this issue without saying what he did. If, as the Weekly Standard suggests, social issues do matter in this election, do you want Akin as your side’s spokesperson? I will stipulate, however, that the fact this is getting more coverage than the shooting at Family Research Council will ever get is a sin.

On the other hand, Matt Lewis argues that national coverage of this gaffe might not be as damaging in Missouri as coverage of Sen. George Allen’s “macaca” moment was Virginia in 2006:

Larry Sabato notes that is a national story, and indeed it is. But a national story probably hurts much less in Missouri than it did in Virginia. When the Washington Post relentlessly covered “macaca” during the fall of 2006, those national stories were read by thousands of voters in population-heavy Northern Virginia (which also shares the Washington, DC TV media market). My guess is the national impact won’t matter quite as much in Missouri. It’s also worth noting that Allen’s gaffe also occurred in 2006, a very bad Republican year. What is more — unlike this year — there was no presidential race to overshadow it (it’s unclear whether or not that factor will help or hurt Akin, as Democrats will try to tie him to the ticket.)

In any event, while it is unclear whether or not Akin can survive, the “macaca” analogy is probably flawed.

Update: Statutorily speaking, Akin has 24 hours:

Missouri state law allows a nominated candidate to withdraw his or her bid for office by 5 p.m. on the 11th Tuesday before the election which, as it turns out, is tomorrow. If Akin does drop his bid before tomorrow’s deadline, the state’s GOP central committee would pick his replacement.

This statutory fact alone is why Republicans — from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — are coalescing around a 24-hour ultimatum.

Update: Former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent weighs in:

Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent said he will not run against Sen. Claire McCaskill, even if Rep. Todd Akin exits the key Senate race.

“No, I’m not running for the Senate,” Talent told reporters attending the Republican platform committee in Tampa, where he serves as a delegate from Missouri.

There’s some wiggle room in that formulation, and he calls Cornyn’s comments “very appropriate.”

Update: Tea Party Express says Akin should hit the road. Your mileage may vary on how much Tea Party Express is a stand-in for actual grassroots Tea Party sentiment, but interesting:

“One of the lessons we learned in 2010 is that we need candidates who are not only conservative, but are capable of putting together a strong campaign against liberal opponents,” Amy Kremer, the group’s chairwoman, said in a statement. Kremer followed Connie Mack’s lead in comparing Akin’s comments to ones made by Vice President Joe Biden last week: “Akin’s frequent ‘Bidenisms’ are distracting from the important issues at hand.”


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