Via Ben Howe and Chris Loesch of Revealing Politics. Two possibilities. One: Priebus is bluffing in order to keep up the pressure on Akin to drop out. If he betrays any willingness to change his mind and start pouring millions into Akin’s campaign, it’s a cinch that the candidate will try to hang on until October. Two: Priebus and Romney are so worried about Republican candidates being damaged by the Democrats’ “war on women” messaging vis-a-vis Akin that they’d rather turn off the tap and see him lose a winnable race than rubber-stamp his candidacy by sending him a few million. They’re going to quarantine him financially, in other words, even if that quarantine removes any chance of taking the seat. That’s how toxic Akin is and how desperate the GOP is not to see the gender gap get worse.
The reply from Team Akin:
“Reince Priebus’ comments are extremely disappointing. He claims the mantle of freedom, liberty and the good of America, but this betrays his apparent personal vendetta against Todd Akin. He is putting party power and political games ahead of the good of the country.”
What’s Priebus’s explanation to grassroots conservatives going to be for not funding Akin if the race is 47/47 on October 1? I understand his desire to inoculate Romney and other Republican candidates, but is he actually prepared to make that argument in his defense? I.e. “If we give him any funds, the Democrats will tie us to him and that’ll hurt the ticket”? For one thing, the Democrats are already tying Akin to the ticket; I saw a photoshopped bumper sticker online the other day that read “Romney/Ryan/Akin.” For another thing, it’s never a good idea for a GOP establishment figure, whose conservative bona fides is suspect among the base almost by definition, to argue that he can’t do X because the left might say mean thing Y. The RNC and NRSC are already sure to be blamed by Huckabee and other prominent social cons for Akin’s loss because they pushed so hard for him to get out. If they withhold money too, that’ll further encourage Huck’s scapegoating and make it more likely that he’ll find a receptive grassroots audience. Priebus is taking a real risk here.
Exit quotation from a Missouri delegate: “I don’t trust the system to find someone to replace him.”