“Most East Coast journalists and politicos I’ve spoken with cannot fathom how Todd Akin could possibly remain a candidate” in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, says former Missouri lawmaker Jeffrey Smith at Salon. After all, every Republican official from presidential aspirant Mitt Romney on down has urged him to drop out following his infamous comments about the pregnancy-stifling powers of “legitimate rape.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and GOP super PAC Crossroads GPS have even said they’ll pull their millions in funding from the race if he remains the candidate.
But looking at the situation from Akin’s point of view, and knowing his history, his decision to defy his party and keep on challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) makes more sense. Here, six reasons Akin is still in the race:
- This is Akin’s last hurrah
Todd Akin is 65, he has given up his safe House seat to run for the Senate, and he has burned any and all bridges within his party, so this is clearly his last chance “to grab the brass ring,” says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Why would he care what Karl Rove or Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus wants him to do, or even what might be best for his party? Akin “just isn’t going to give up what he’s been hungering for for a lifetime because of one bad news cycle.”
- And he thinks he can still win
Unlike Republican officials and strategists — and, for that matter, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report — Akin doesn’t think he’s doomed. As he explained to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Tuesday, this whole flap over “one word and one sentence on one day” seems “like a little bit of an overreaction.” Akin might be right about his chances, too, says Markos Moulitsas at The Daily Kos. Missouri is an increasingly Republican state, and McCaskill has by far “the worst poll numbers of any incumbent this cycle,” so trying to ride out the storm “wouldn’t be irrational in the least.” Besides, “if he quits now, he’s a punch line forever,” says Salon’s Smith. If he stays in, “he has a 50 percent chance of being a U.S. senator as well as a punch line.” What would you choose?
- Akin doesn’t owe his party anything
Republicans are pulling out all the stops to push Akin aside, but the six-term back-bencher is “totally unbeholden to the GOP establishment that needs him to drop out,” says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. He has never been a team player, and most GOP leaders and Tea Party groups backed his opponents in the ugly three-way primary he won just two weeks ago. “In other words, nobody who is telling Akin to drop out is a dear friend of his.” Right, what does he have to lose by staying in the race, says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly, “other than the opportunistic support of people who don’t know or like him and would probably have taken credit for his victory had he won without this latest incident?”