Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus has a “personal vendetta” against Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), according to the embattled lawmaker's senatorial campaign.
The statement issued by the Akin campaign Tuesday came in response to a YouTube video in which Priebus says that, even if Akin were tied in his Senate battle against incumbent Claire McCaskill (D), he would not receive “a penny” from the RNC.
“Reince Priebus's comments are extremely disappointing,” the Akin campaign said in a statement. “He claims the mantle of freedom, liberty and the good of America, but this betrays his apparent personal vendetta against Todd Akin. He is putting party power and political games ahead of the good of the country.”
Recent polling shows Akin well behind McCaskill in the polls, and indicates Republicans' worst fears could come true — that Akin's candidacy will cost them a Senate seat. Previous polls showed McCaskill was vulnerable and Akin was leading her.
In a local television interview released 10 days ago, Akin said that rape rarely results in pregnancy because if it's a "legitimate rape," a woman's body can prevent that outcome. His comments sparked outrage nationwide, with some of his own party's more prominent individuals calling for Akin to quit the senatorial race for the good of the party. Both Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, and Paul Ryan, Romney's choice for vice president, have asked Akin to step aside, and some big donors have said they will contribute no more to his race. Akin, however, has hunkered down and vowed to stay in the contest.
Republicans need a net gain of only four seats — if President Obama wins reelection — to take control of the Senate. McCaskill was one of their top targets. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee told Akin if he remains in the race, it will pull its funds.
“I think that it’s time for Mr. Akin to step aside and allow someone else that has a better chance of winning — that’s all this is about, putting your country first,” Priebus said Tuesday.
Priebus said he left a message for the Akin campaign recently but hadn’t heard back. But Priebus’s sharpest words came when he was asked if the RNC would consider sending funds to the Akin campaign if it were a close race.
“He could be tied,” Priebus said. “We’re not going to send him a penny.”