Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) released a statement Tuesday backing Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a little less than a month after publicly calling for an end to his campaign after Akin’s “legitimate rape” debacle. Akin withstood the clamoring of many Republican lawmakers and fundraisers to stay in the race. But his party seems to be making their peace with him now that the official deadline for his withdrawal has passed. Blunt echoed Newt Gingrich, who exhorted Republicans to overlook Akin’s comments and support him because of a “moral obligation” to win a majority in the Senate.
In August, Blunt told MSNBC he hoped Akin would withdraw:
Todd needs to get out of this race…it’s not helpful. He’s a person who I think will ultimately look at this and try to figure out the greater good. I didn’t say I was confident … I’m hopeful he will and I believe he will. He’s an engineer, he’s a quantitative guy. I think at some point you have to add up the columns here, and my belief is that by anyway you add them up, they don’t add up.
On Tuesday, Blunt embraced Akin in a statement:
Congressman Akin and I don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change. From Governor Romney to the county courthouse, I’ll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin.
The Missouri Republican Party has also changed its mind about Akin. After the August deadline to drop out passed, Party Chariman David Cole sent a memo to the Republican State Committee warning that Akin “posed a threat” and reassuring them there was still time to change his mind:
It has become increasingly clear that Congressman Akin’s comments over the weekend are not just a distraction—they pose a threat to our Party’s chances of retaking control of the US Senate and impact other races here in Missouri…This afternoon, Congressman Akin stated that he intends to remain in the race. While one may question the wisdom of this choice, there will still be time for the Congressman to reevaluate his decision in the coming days. Despite today’s widely-reported 5:00 deadline for Congressman Akin to withdraw from the race, Missouri statute allows for candidates to withdraw at a later date, so there will still be time for him to reconsider his current decision to continue his campaign.
Now, it seems, Cole has decided to make the best of Akin’s refusal to drop out:
Just like all of our GOP candidates elected in the August primary, the Missouri Republican Party stands behind Congressman Todd Akin in his race for United State Senate. Claire McCaskill is far too liberal for Missouri—voting with Barack Obama 95% of the time since 2010 and supporting every major piece of his reckless agenda. We are confident that Todd will defeat McCaskill in November, and the Missouri Republican Party will do everything we can to assist in his efforts.
Blunt also serves as a liasion between Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the Senate Republicans. Romney previously said Akin should drop out of the race, but former rival Gingrich recently predicted Romney would come around and support Akin. Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) super PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, is also preparing to back Akin now that he has agreed to change his position on an earmark ban the Fund supports. Rick Santorum has also announced that he is backing Akin, and may donate to his campaign through the Patriot Voices PAC.
Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have claimed they will not raise money for his campaign.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which previously said it would not invest in Akin’s campaign if he stayed in the race, released the following statement: “There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Senator Claire McCaskil. As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”