Commentary Magazine


Topic: NRSC

Did the Tea Party Pave the Way for Akin?

The “legitimate rape” comment is hardly the first controversial thing rogue Senate candidate Todd Akin has said in his career. So why did national Republican leadership stand by silently as he shot to victory — with the help of $1.5 million in Democratic money — in such a critical Republican Senate primary? You would think the fact that Claire McCaskill was running pro-Akin ads should have been enough of a red flag.

One reason could be that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has declined to endorse and fund candidates in open seat primaries, after the blowback it received from the conservative grassroots in 2009 and 2010. Back then; NRSC came under massive fire from the Tea Party for backing “RINO” Republicans like Charlie Crist (over Rubio in Florida), Lisa Murkowski (over Joe Miller in Alaska) and Arlen Specter (over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania). Conservatives inundated the phone lines of the NRSC and its chair Sen. John Cornyn’s office, demanding support for Tea Party-approved candidates.

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The “legitimate rape” comment is hardly the first controversial thing rogue Senate candidate Todd Akin has said in his career. So why did national Republican leadership stand by silently as he shot to victory — with the help of $1.5 million in Democratic money — in such a critical Republican Senate primary? You would think the fact that Claire McCaskill was running pro-Akin ads should have been enough of a red flag.

One reason could be that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has declined to endorse and fund candidates in open seat primaries, after the blowback it received from the conservative grassroots in 2009 and 2010. Back then; NRSC came under massive fire from the Tea Party for backing “RINO” Republicans like Charlie Crist (over Rubio in Florida), Lisa Murkowski (over Joe Miller in Alaska) and Arlen Specter (over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania). Conservatives inundated the phone lines of the NRSC and its chair Sen. John Cornyn’s office, demanding support for Tea Party-approved candidates.

In many cases, the Tea Party was right. Rubio and Toomey were far superior to Crist and Specter, and they were competitive candidates to boot. But the Tea Party also got some bets really, really wrong — like when Christine O’Donnell cost Republicans a Senate seat.

Faced with boycott calls and angry tirades from talk radio hosts and bloggers, the NRSC apparently decided it was best to just stay out of the open races rather than face the wrath of the grassroots. It’s not a bad policy, but it also makes it more difficult for them to protect critical seats from self-immolating candidates.

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Why Akin Didn’t and Won’t Drop Out

Today on the Mike Huckabee show (and again immediately following on Dana Loesch’s program), Rep. Todd Akin told Americans that he has no intention of dropping out of his Senate race. Akin caused a firestorm earlier this week after remarks about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy. Despite calls from every corner of the GOP establishment and Tea Party for Akin to step aside before the 5 p.m. central time deadline, Akin has refused.

Judging from Akin’s interview with Huckabee today, it doesn’t appear he fully comprehends why the level of outrage is where it is, nor does he grasp just how much anger he has instigated from across the political spectrum. Akin told Huckabee: “It does seem to be a little bit of an overreaction.” He explained that he misspoke “one word in one sentence in one day.”

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Today on the Mike Huckabee show (and again immediately following on Dana Loesch’s program), Rep. Todd Akin told Americans that he has no intention of dropping out of his Senate race. Akin caused a firestorm earlier this week after remarks about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy. Despite calls from every corner of the GOP establishment and Tea Party for Akin to step aside before the 5 p.m. central time deadline, Akin has refused.

Judging from Akin’s interview with Huckabee today, it doesn’t appear he fully comprehends why the level of outrage is where it is, nor does he grasp just how much anger he has instigated from across the political spectrum. Akin told Huckabee: “It does seem to be a little bit of an overreaction.” He explained that he misspoke “one word in one sentence in one day.”

How could Akin get the public sentiment so wrong with a bipartisan chorus as loud as the one is calling for him to step down? One likely explanation is who comprises his inner circle. In early January, Akin fired most of his senior staff (his campaign manager, finance director and a general consultant) and installed his son, Perry, as campaign manager. His wife also has “been a regular presence on the campaign trail since he was first elected to the Missouri State House in 1988″ (this quote unfortunately comes from a disgusting hit piece from the Daily Beast on Mrs. Akin). Those surrounding Akin on his campaign have a personal, vested interest in his remaining in the race, and are less able to see his remarks as objectively as a campaign strategist might if they were not directly related to the candidate.

While one withdrawal deadline is apparently 5 p.m. central today, Akin has as late as September 25 to remove himself from the ballot. Politico explains,

Republicans in Washington were watching nervously ahead of a 6 p.m. EDT deadline for Akin to leave the race so Missouri Republican leaders could easily pick a replacement. The process for dropping out after Tuesday evening becomes far more cumbersome: Akin would have to petition a court to get out of the race before Sept. 25.

It’s unlikely that Akin will suddenly come to his senses before that deadline either, perhaps barring a total financial collapse of his campaign, which is a distinct possibility. “About a dozen GOP senators were scheduled to co-host a fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Sept. 19, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and tea party favorite Mike Lee of Utah. All have since backed out of the event, a Republican source told POLITICO.”

It became apparent yesterday, however, just how much of an uphill financial battle Akin would face and when Huckabee asked about the financial difficulties his campaign would face, Akin seemed to hold out hope for a large contingent of dedicated small donors to carry his campaign through to November. It would take an ad-buy with a budget the size of most small countries to undo the damage that Akin has done, and without any major financial backing, that looks to be an almost impossible battle. With Akin’s decision today to remain in the race, it appears Republicans may have lost hope for a majority in the Senate, and as Jonathan pointed out, a chance at defeating ObamaCare.

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Akin and the Difference Between the Parties

This month two prominent politicians have said remarkably stupid things: Vice President Joe Biden warned that Republicans were going to put a largely black crowd “back into chains” and the Republican running for the Missouri Senate said that women who experienced “legitimate rape” could naturally prevent pregnancy. Both statements were incredibly stupid, even for politicians, and were the definition of offensive; but the responses of each party highlights their differences quite clearly.

After Vice President Joe Biden’s warning to a largely black audience about being put “back in chains” the liberal elite in the media called his remarks a “gaffe.” While there were questions put to the White House about his remaining on the ticket, there were no serious demands for his ouster. One would think the threat of slavery for voting the “wrong way” would have been accompanied with demands for his resignation. But there were none–not from the media and not from fellow Democrats. The White House and its surrogates defended and pushed aside Biden’s remarks, as they consistently have, no matter how offensive the statement. Biden himself refused to apologize, instead first trying to downplay it, and then disappearing to an undisclosed location somewhere far away from cameras and microphones.

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This month two prominent politicians have said remarkably stupid things: Vice President Joe Biden warned that Republicans were going to put a largely black crowd “back into chains” and the Republican running for the Missouri Senate said that women who experienced “legitimate rape” could naturally prevent pregnancy. Both statements were incredibly stupid, even for politicians, and were the definition of offensive; but the responses of each party highlights their differences quite clearly.

After Vice President Joe Biden’s warning to a largely black audience about being put “back in chains” the liberal elite in the media called his remarks a “gaffe.” While there were questions put to the White House about his remaining on the ticket, there were no serious demands for his ouster. One would think the threat of slavery for voting the “wrong way” would have been accompanied with demands for his resignation. But there were none–not from the media and not from fellow Democrats. The White House and its surrogates defended and pushed aside Biden’s remarks, as they consistently have, no matter how offensive the statement. Biden himself refused to apologize, instead first trying to downplay it, and then disappearing to an undisclosed location somewhere far away from cameras and microphones.

Contrast this with Republicans’ response to the remarks on “legitimate rape” made by Rep. Todd Akin, running for the Missouri Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. Immediately, highly regarded conservatives like our John PodhoretzMichelle MalkinS.E. CuppPhilip KleinRick Wilson, and the editorial board of National Review have all called for Akin to step aside. It appears that if Akin decides to run, he will now be doing so without the financial backing of Karl Rove’s group Crossroads GPS or the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), headed by Senator John Cornyn. During an interview on New Hampshire radio it appears that Romney echoed Cornyn’s pressure for Akin to step aside while the Missouri Republican party still has time to replace him. Prominent Congressional Republicans like Senators Scott Brown and Ron Johnson have called for Akin to drop out, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was severe in his criticism, and many others have harshly rebuked his comments.

While the comments made by Rep. Akin have jeopardized Republican chances at a majority in the U.S. Senate, many in the “establishment” and Tea Party are not allowing his remarks to pass. The outrage is equally felt across the aisle, despite what Democrats are fundraising on, and it appears Republicans are doing all they can to remove Akin from his race before the deadline. If he refuses to step down, it appears he will not receive any backing from the party, financial or otherwise. Despite the importance of the seat, Republicans refuse to help Akin win it.

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NRSC Pulls Support From Akin

Todd Akin’s campaign continues to undergo one of the fastest implosions on record. Not only is Mitt Romney pushing him toward the door, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it will yank financial support for his Senate bid, CNN reports:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will no longer support Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri in his U.S. Senate bid, a source from the group told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Monday.

It was communicated to the congressman that the NRSC will be pulling out if he decides to stay in the race, the source said one day after the Senate candidate sparked a firestorm by claiming that “legitimate rape” rarely resulted in pregnancy.

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Todd Akin’s campaign continues to undergo one of the fastest implosions on record. Not only is Mitt Romney pushing him toward the door, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it will yank financial support for his Senate bid, CNN reports:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will no longer support Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri in his U.S. Senate bid, a source from the group told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Monday.

It was communicated to the congressman that the NRSC will be pulling out if he decides to stay in the race, the source said one day after the Senate candidate sparked a firestorm by claiming that “legitimate rape” rarely resulted in pregnancy.

Akin sounded defiant on the Mike Huckabee show earlier today, saying that he had no plans to step aside. At this point, it doesn’t look like that’s possible anymore. Republican senators are calling on him to drop out, and without NRSC funding, Akin has no chance of fighting off the attacks Democrats will rightfully hit him with. GOP advisors say he’s already making preparations to exit the race, according to Richard Grenell.

What would be the point of staying in the race at this point, unless he’s actively seeking to damage the Republican Party? Akin has basically no chance of winning, few defenders in the conservative media, and zero support from his national committee. In that climate, bowing out and preventing further embarrassment for himself should seem pretty appealing.

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