Republicans are quickly trying to get out of the splash zone of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, whose toxic remarks Sunday suggesting that victims of “legitimate rape” are not at risk for pregnancy now threaten to further damage the GOP’s reputation among women.Akin — long been considered the favourite to defeat Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in one of this year’s most closely-watched Senate races — apologized profusely for the remarks on Mike Huckabee’s radio show this afternoon, but dug in on his candidacy, saying that he is not a “quitter.”
“My belief is we’re going to take this thing forward,” Akin said. “No one has called me and said ‘Todd, I think you should drop out,’ no one has said that.”
But it may be too late for Akin. Republicans, concerned that Akin has diminished their chances for taking contol of the Senate, are already looking for an out.
Texas Senator John Coryn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, joined his fellow Republicans in condemning Akin’s remarks, issuing a strongly-worded statement Monday that stopped just short of urging Akin to drop out.
“Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” Coryn said in the statement. “I recognise that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 20-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.”
The message suggests that Akin will not be able to rely on funding from the Republican Party if he decides to stay in the race. Politico reports that American Crossroads, an outside Republican spending group that has been pouring money into Republican Senate races, will no longer run ads in Missouri.
Akin’s fellow Republican Senate candidates have also called on Akin to drop out, raising concerns that the Missouri Republican’s remarks will further hurt their chances with female voters.
Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who is also locked in a tight race against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, led the charge on Monday, issuing a statement that calls on Akin to drop out of the race:
“As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologise, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri.”
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson echoed Brown, issuing his own statement Monday:
“Todd Akin’s statements are reprehensible and inexcusable. Gaining a Republican majority in the US Senate and fixing the huge challenges that face our nation is more important than any one individual’s political ambitions. Todd Akin should do the right thing for the nation and step aside today, so Missouri Republicans can put forth a candidate that can win in November.”
If these demands seem urgent, that’s because the clock is running out to replace Akin on the Missouri ballot. Akin has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to withdraw from the race “without reason.” After that, the GOP’s only chance would be for Akin to petition a court to take his name off the ballot before Sept. 25.
Akin’s two Republican primary opponents will likely be ready to step up in the event Akin drops out. Former state Treasurer and Sarah Palin acolyte Sarah Steelman tweeted this morning that Akin’s comments were “inexcusable, insulting and embarrassing to the GOP.”
Neither Steelman nor Missouri businessman John Brunner would automatically be selected to replace Akin.
But McCaskill, who is already seizing her surprise advantage, isn’t so eager to see Akin taken off the ballot.
“I really think that for the national party to try to come in here and dictate to the Republicans primary voters that they’re going to invalidate their decision, that would be pretty radical, and I think there could be a backlash for the Republicans if they did that,” McCaskill said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday.
*This post has been updated.