By Alexandra Jaffe - 09/25/12 09:00 AM EDT
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is moving forward with his campaign Tuesday, the deadline to drop out of Missouri’s Senate race.
Akin is beginning a four-day bus tour and enlisting prominent conservatives to boost his challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared with Akin in a suburb of St. Louis on Monday to reassert his support for the candidate and to call for conservatives to back Akin’s campaign. Gingrich framed the Missouri Senate race as a fight for control of the upper chamber, not simply as a state-centric race.
“If Todd and the people of Missouri prove it’s a close race, what’s the moral case for not backing the Republican nominee?” Gingrich said, according to Bloomberg News.
Gingrich appeared later on Monday with Akin at a $500-a-plate fundraiser, making him a part of the slow trickle of Republicans who have pledged to back Akin either monetarily or on the campaign trail.
The lawmaker has received outspoken support from Mike Huckabee, who will appear with Akin on the campaign trail, according to The Washington Post.
And Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a prominent conservative, told The Hill last week that he’ll “certainly reconsider what I do” if Akin remains in the race past the deadline. The senator also indicated that his PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, would be willing to pump much-needed funds into the race.
And Akin will launch a four-day bus tour Tuesday featuring appearances by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, and a number of national social-conservative voices.
After comments Akin made, that pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” are rare because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” exploded nationwide, he received calls from Republicans to step down from the nomination.
Fearing Akin’s continued candidacy would hurt one of the party’s best pickup chances in its path to retaking the Senate majority, the National Republican Senatorial Committee withdrew funds from the race, and GOP nominee for president Mitt Romney asked Akin to step down as well. Republicans need a net gain of four Senate seats — if President Obama wins reelection — to take control of the upper chamber.
But the congressman persisted, launching grassroots fundraising efforts and powwowing with social conservatives to continue his campaign. Missouri’s size makes it difficult not only to blanket the airwaves with ads but also to spread out a substantial ground game without millions in campaign funds — and at the close of the last reporting period, just prior to the period when his comments went public, Akin posted only $531,000 in cash on hand.
McCaskill had, at that time, nearly $3.5 million cash on hand.
The new boost from Gingrich, and possible investment of funds from the Senate Conservatives Fund, however, might make Akin’s fight for a win on Nov. 6 a little easier, if no more probable. The most recent independent poll, taken at the end of August, put McCaskill ahead by 9 percentage points.
But Akin and his motley crew of supporters are hoping that Missouri voters’ distaste for the Democrats and Obama, who lags behind Romney by 7 percentage points in that same independent poll, could ultimately push the congressman over the top despite how severely he’s handicapped himself.