The noose is tightening around Todd Akin’s campaign. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has turned up the heat with with another statement, which read, in part: “It should not be lost on anyone that some of the only voices not calling for Congressman Akin to do the right thing and step aside are Claire McCaskill and the leaders of the pro-abortion movement. Senator McCaskill knows that the only way she wins re-election is if Todd Akin is her opponent in November. We continue to hope that Congressman Akin will do the right thing for the values he holds dear, but there should be no mistake — if he continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.”
The mega-third party fundraising operation American Crossroads let it be known Akin isn’t getting any money from it either. (“Rep. Akin faces a simple choice: Will he help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority by staying in the race, or will he help Republicans defeat Barack Obama’s most reliable ally in the Senate by getting out?”)
And in case Akin thought this was an inside the Beltway phenomenon, Rush Limbaugh joined the chorus telling Akin to get out.
Akin can, as I mentioned, drag this out through September 25. But there are other steps the GOP and third-party groups might take to hasten his departure.
For starters, following in the tradition of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) the GOP could field an “independent,” like a former senator, and back him or her to the hilt. One Right Turn reader suggested former Sen. John Danforth, who would actually draw some votes from Democrats as well.
Either the state GOP or third-party groups in Missouri could actually run ads or a petition from voters asking him to step down for the good of the party.
And finally some key pro-life groups could uniformly ask for him to leave, telling him that he is a hindrance to the pro-life cause. Moreover, Sarah Palin has only hinted at her discomfort with Akin. A powerful push from her might be the tipping point.
None of these options should be discounted or ruled out. And in order to defuse the Beltway antipathy it would be helpful for much of this to come from inside the state.
Certainly, Akin keeps insisting he will stay in the race. But as money dries up he’ll have to begin considering whether his fruitless quest should also put his family in debt. If not today, I expect soon, Akin will finally relent. Unfortunately his stubborn gracelessness likely precludes generating any goodwill for his exit.
UPDATE (4:19 p.m.): Mitt Romney put out this statement: “As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country. Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.”