Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican running for Senate in Missouri who set off a firestorm after talking about “legitimate rape” and who is under intense Republican pressure to pull out of the race by today’s deadline, has made it clear he’s not going anywhere (for now). Here’s his new ad asking Missouri voters for their forgiveness as polls show a majority of Missouri voters want him to get lost.
UPDATE: It’s worth adding this excellent context as provided by NBC News’ always-must-read-analysis First Read:
*** The chickens may have come home to roost: As the political world waits and sees if Rep. Todd Akin (R) drops out of Missouri’s Senate contest by this afternoon’s deadline, here’s a question for us to ponder: How did we get here? How is the GOP on the verge of losing a very winnable Senate race if Akin remains in it? And why is the party pressuring him to drop out? Much of it comes down to the 2009-2010 cycle, when Republican leaders — National Republican Senatorial Committee head John Cornyn and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell — took so much heat for backing establishment candidates over Tea Party insurgents like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. The base of the party sent this unmistakable message to GOP leaders: Stay out of our primaries or get on board of the most conservative candidate. Yes, both Rubio and Paul ended up winning (as did Republicans across the board in 2010), but others lost, including Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and Christine O’Donnell. So Republican leaders — the very folks who could have ensured that Missouri Republicans ended up with their most electable candidate (and no one ever thought it was Akin) — chickened out, and the chickens have come home to roost. And here’s the ultimate question for Republicans: Can you always pick the most conservative candidate and still win races, especially in blue or purple states? Indeed, Republicans may not control the U.S. Senate in 2013 because they have been unable to put even a thumb on the scale for its preferred candidates.
*** Why Akin probably doesn’t exit today or tomorrow: As much of the party is pressuring him to exit the race, Akin is up with a new TV ad asking for forgiveness. “Rape is an evil act,” he says to the camera. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way. And for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. And I pray for them… The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.” Here’s our guess for now: Akin isn’t withdrawing today or tomorrow. He might eventually (before that final Sept. 25 deadline), but it won’t be now. Why? Put yourself in Akin’s shoes. No one in Washington wanted him as the GOP nominee in the first place (even if they didn’t try to get the person they wanted), and so he owes them nothing because — in his mind — these folks asking him to get out didn’t help him get there. And isn’t it perfectly rational in HIS mind that he take longer than 24 hours to decide whether to stay or go? It may not be comfortable for the powers that be, but given how hard U.S. Senate nominations are to come by, it seems nuts to think he’ll simply walk away from this in 48 hours, especially since he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong other than use the wrong word. And by the way, be careful of any polls claiming the race is still close. That is probably true now, but make no mistake: This race is NOT WINNABLE for Akin anymore, period. All Claire McCaskill has to do is run ads featuring every quote from uttered yesterday by every prominent Republican in the country denouncing Akin as unfit to run.
And it’s worth adding yet one more paragraph which suggests the optics could be getting even worse for the GOP:
*** The GOP’s draft platform language opposes abortion, even in cases of rape: First Read has confirmed a CNN report that the draft language on abortion in the Republican Party’s official platform calls for the “Human Life Amendment,” which would outlaw abortion in all circumstances (even in cases of rape or incest). An RNC official tells us that a full committee will vote on this draft language — which was THE SAME LANGUAGE in 2004 and 2008 — tomorrow, and the full convention will take it up on Monday. On Sunday night, after Todd Akin’s controversial comments on abortion and rape first surfaced, the Romney campaign stated that a Romney-Ryan administration “would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.” But that statement would run counter to the RNC’s official platform, if the language is again adopted. Of course, this now means that George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney have disagreed with the party’s plank on abortion. But the timing for Romney and Republican Party couldn’t be any worse. Indeed, Romney’s biggest problem heading into the fall election could very well be the Republican brand, and it has become harder for him to differentiate himself from the brand when he added a high-profile House Republican to his ticket.