In Missouri, Representative and US Senate Candidate Todd Akin, who alienated himself from the rest of his party with his “legitimate rape” comments a month ago, is still in the race for US Senate against Democrat Claire McCaskill, and things may be looking up for him.
A new Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters conducted on September 11 showed Akin trailing the incumbent McCaskill 49-43. A Rasmussen poll taken immediately following Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments showed the Republican congressman trailing McCaskill 48-38, marking a two point improvement.
Tuesday, September 25 is the last day Akin can apply for a court order to get his name off the ballot, although the candidate would have to pay the expense of reprinting the ballots because they have his name on them. An earlier deadline came and passed on August 21 for Akin to withdraw his name from the ballot without penalty. The first absentee ballots were mailed out Friday.
With this deadline approaching, Akin may have another reason to stay in the race: money. The Republican National Senatorial Committee, which raises and distributes money for US Senate candidates, has repeatedly refused to contribute to Akin’s race. According to TheHill.com, Republican South Carolina US Senator Jim DeMint may offer financial support for Akin if the congressman stays in the race beyond the Tuesday deadline. Newt Gingrich is also hosting a fundraiser for Akin scheduled for Monday.
DeMint, who acts as a kind of conservative “kingmaker” because of his reputation of frequently bucking the party establishment, helped bankroll the campaigns of several conservative US Senate candidates in 2010 through his Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF). This fund helped Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey when the NRSC was reluctant to do so. The South Carolina senator, who has since launched a super PAC with the same goals as the SCF, says the potential move makes sense because Missouri is a red state and is more worthy of resources than states like Maine or Hawaii that have Republicans running for the US Senate, but are also likely to vote for President Obama. DeMint also said, “I’m certainly looking at the race now. Todd’s a good conservative; he’s been a good representative for a long time. He did make a mistake and said it was a mistake.”
Even if Akin stays in the race until the end, he still faces a formidable obstacle: his own campaign.
As reported in the Washington Post, this past week the Akin campaign briefly posted pictures to its website featuring Akin and his wife posing with a woman to demonstrate that the congressman has support among women. However, the woman in the picture was a Democratic operative who follows Akin and says that the couple knows her. The picture was quickly taken down.
Immediately after Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments in August, the Daily Caller‘s Matt Lewis pointed out that part of Akin’s problem was that he was insulated because he employed his family on his campaigns:
“Qualifications aside, the problem with family is that they tend to love you. They might even revere and respect you. That’s good in a son or daughter or wife, but not in a campaign manager or adviser.
“What you want is someone who is a little bit dispassionate – someone who can say: ‘Hey, I heard what you said during that interview taping. It was dumb. My candidate in ’04 said something similar. We need to clean this up.’
“Better yet – candidates don’t usually get busted the first time they say something stupid. How much do you want to bet Akin said [the 'legitimate rape' comments] somewhere else? – at a small speech or even in a private conversation? Staffers who overhear such things ought to correct them before the candidate says it on TV.”
These latest missteps were not necessarily the candidate’s fault, but the point still holds true today. Avoidance of any mention of the word “rape” ought to have been an easy memo to internalize.
The race in Missouri is not literally over even though the Republican candidate is badly damaged. Improving poll numbers and a potential influx of money may be helpful in advance of the inevitable Democratic ad blitz, but the campaign of US Senate Candidate Todd Akin cannot seem to outmaneuver its greatest and most persistent adversary: itself.