Via BuzzFeed, it’s important that people like Hannity, Coulter, and the boss emeritus are leaning on this guy too, not just Romney and Reince Priebus. Without pressure from all-stars on the right, he can dig in and turn it into a “weak-ass establishment RINOs are selling me out to the Democrats” populist attack on D.C. Republicans. That might be enough to rally grassroots conservatives to his side and keep him in the race, but not enough to prevent him from losing to McCaskill and, just maybe, dragging the ticket down with him. How lucky do you feel? Want to bet the future of repealing ObamaCare on Akin’s ability to not only recover from his theory of the female body’s magical defenses against rape-sperm but to avoid other goofy errors between now and November? John Brunner, who finished second to Akin in the primary, is reportedly already angling to replace him if he drops; Sarah Steelman, who finished within a point of Brunner, is almost certainly interested too, especially since she’d be inoculated from Akin’s comments due to her gender. If the game’s on the line in the late innings and your pitcher’s getting shelled, why not go to the pen while you can? Even the Tea Party Express, imagining another Angle/O’Donnell nightmare scenario in November, is unsparing:
Tea Party Express, which backed Sharron Angle, calls for Akin to go, based on "the lessons we learned in 2010" about bad candidates
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 20, 2012
Akin’s been consistent today about saying he’ll stay in, but I keep seeing reports like this from plugged-in pundits on Twitter:
BuzzFeed’s getting mixed signals:
“Akin is taking concrete steps to withdraw by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.,” a senior Republican told BuzzFeed, adding that Akin could still change his mind.
But a Republican close to Akin said his position hasn’t changed: He’s still in the race.
Tomorrow afternoon is an important deadline: If he files papers to end his candidacy in Jefferson City tomorrow he can end his candidacy unilaterally; after that, he would have to file an application in court.
Could be that Akin hasn’t given any indication privately about quitting but that the consultants, who suspect he’s DOA if he stays in, are trying to shove him towards the exit by creating a false narrative in the media about him supposedly dropping out. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: The more the press reports that he’s on his way out and the more positive feedback those reports receive from the right, the more Akin might feel that he has no allies left and is better off quitting. The thing is, if he decided to stick with it, how likely is it really that the NRSC and Republican Super PACs would follow through on their threats and refuse to spend any money on his race in the fall? He may lag behind McCaskill, but probably not by so much that the race’s outcome will become a foregone conclusion; if we get to October and he’s within five or six points, the pressure on the NRSC and outside groups to come to his rescue will be tremendous, even though the money they’d be spending on him could also be useful in other races. The reason they’re threatening to withhold funds now is purely a bluff to convince him that he has zero chance of winning and therefore stands to gain nothing by staying in. But if he does stay in, and ends up being the only game in town for Republicans, will they really cut him off?
Two exit quotations for this one. The first, from NBC: “[A] source with ties to Akin’s political operation tells First Read that the GOP congressman most likely won’t quit the contest, saying Akin believes this race is ‘providential’ and even if Akin was ready to get out, his wife would never let him quit.” The second, from Philip Klein: “At this point, if Akin doesn’t drop, McCaskill can run ads all fall simply quoting Republicans condemning him.”