By Alexander Bolton - 09/21/12 10:00 AM EDT
DeMint said the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which has pulled its funding from the Missouri race, should reconsider its decision if Akin continues his candidacy.
“I’m certainly looking at the race now. Todd’s a good conservative; he’s been a good representative for a long time. He did make a mistake and said it was a mistake,” DeMint said.
GOP leaders in Washington, as well as the party’s nominee, Mitt Romney, urged Akin to drop his Senate bid after he made controversial comments about “legitimate rape.” Akin apologized for the remarks but has refused to leave the race.
DeMint said if Akin stays in the Senate race past the state deadline for withdrawal, “I will certainly reconsider what I do.”
“I think we need to take every Republican candidate around the country and do what we can to elect them. He’s certainly within striking distance,” he said. “If the people of Missouri — if they’re going to throw him out because of one mistake, that’s tough.
“I’m going to look at the race and I would encourage [NRSC Chairman] John CornynJohn CornynFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Hopes dim for mental health deal MORE [(R-Texas)] to look at all races where Republicans have a chance to win,” DeMint said. “We have some resources we can put in races, and we’re looking where else we want to invest.”
DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund has raised millions of dollars for conservative Senate candidates this election cycle, including Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Rep. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeVulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine GOP Sen. Flake offers Trump rare praise Booker denounces ‘lock her up' chants MORE (R) in Arizona, Ted CruzTed CruzVoting Trump because of the Supreme Court isn't enough Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings Dem lawmakers rally Muslims against Trump MORE in Texas and Josh Mandel in Ohio.
The fund invested $2.1 million in Cruz’s primary race and has given $957,000 to Mandel’s bid to unseat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownThe Trail 2016: Her big night Kaine as Clinton's VP pick sells out progressive wing of party Unions want one thing from Hillary tonight: A stake in TPP’s heart MORE (D-Ohio).
Under Missouri state election law, Akin must decide by Sept. 25 whether to remove himself from the ballot. But the de facto deadline may have already passed because military and overseas ballots must be mailed by Sept. 22. Several jurisdictions have already placed the orders with printing companies.
Akin has shown no indication that he will drop his challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillDems begin ‘treason’ talk against Trump The Republicans' hypocrisy on minimum wage Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation MORE (D-Mo.), and predicted Republican outside group money would pour back into the race once the deadline passes.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will attend a $500-per-plate fundraiser for Akin on Monday. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Republicans need Missouri to win the Senate.
“I don't see how the Republicans are going to win the Senate if they throw away a seat like Missouri,” he said.
Missouri Republicans have a bold streak of social conservatism — Rick Santorum handily defeated Romney in the Missouri primary — and they have shown far more willingness to stick with Akin than GOP leaders in Washington.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has a strong following among social conservatives, slammed party leaders in August for abandoning Akin.
Polls show Akin has kept pace with McCaskill despite the decision by the NRSC and the pro-GOP super-PAC Crossroads GPS to pull television ads in the state.
A survey by Rasmussen Reports last week showed McCaskill with a 6-point lead, 49 percent to 43.
Cornyn told The Hill late Thursday afternoon that he would not reconsider the decision to spend money on Akin’s campaign.
“We’re done,” he said.
Instead, the Senate Republican political committee has sought to broaden the playing field by threatening what have been considered likely Democratic wins.
The NRSC recently made a $600,000 ad buy in Maine to support Republican candidate Charlie Summers, who is in a three-way race with independent Angus KingAngus KingClinton VP pick could face liberal ire Independent Sen. Angus King endorses Clinton McCain: Inaction on encryption 'furthering the cause of child pornographers' MORE and Democrat Cynthia Dill.
But DeMint said polls show Missouri is a more likely Republican pick-up than Maine.
“The polls would suggest it is,” he said.
DeMint and Cornyn clashed during the 2010 election cycle, when DeMint supported conservative insurgents such as Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulGreen party candidate: People have 'real questions' about vaccines What to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US Overnight Healthcare: Rubio presses Obama to spend Zika money | FDA moves ahead with trans fat ban The Trail 2016: Her big night MORE (R-Fla.) and Cornyn backed more centrist candidates.
Other GOP senators said they support Cornyn’s decision to stay out of Missouri. Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranMeet the rising GOP star who already enrages the left GOP warming up to Cuba travel Senate clears FAA authorization bill MORE (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, said Democrats would likely unleash a barrage of negative advertising attacking Akin for his rape comment once it is certain he will remain on the ballot.
“While the polls appear to be relatively close now, my guess is the Democratic candidate and the Democrats are just waiting until Sept. 25 expires before it becomes a messy campaign,” Moran said. “The Democrats worked to get him nominated, so my guess is the campaign by Democrats will lay low until it’s not possible for him to get out of the race.”
Akin started a firestorm in August when he argued against creating exceptions for abortion in cases of rape by questioning the likelihood of pregnancy in such cases.
“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” he said.
A few hours later, Akin said he misspoke walked back the statement.
“I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion, and I understand I may not have their support in this election,” he said.