Color Missouri Democratic Party chair Mike Sanders unsurprised. As news broke that the NRSC was reconsidering its support for Rep. Todd Akin’s Senate candidacy Wednesday, Saunders told reporters his party never expected Republicans to stay away despite their promises to the contrary.
“We’ve always expected these dollars to flow in. So when you heard from the Republican side the outcry that ‘we’re going to pull away from Todd Akin,’ we never thought that would be the case,” Sanders told TPM on a conference call. “Number one, I never expected he would drop out and number two, we always knew that these dollars would flow in. So we fully expect it, and we ‘re ready for it.”
The NRSC’s signal that it was ready to change its tune on the Missouri Senate race comes a little more than five weeks after Akin caused a national furor with his “legitimate rape” remarks, prompting the NRSC and other national Republican groups to abandon him and call on him to drop out of the race in time for Republicans to select a new nominee.
Akin was defiant through the final deadline for him to smoothly leave the race Tuesday, leaving Republicans stuck with him in a contest that could determine Senate control. NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer said the stakes were too high not to give Akin a second look.
“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Senator Claire McCaskill,” he said in a statement. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”
The NRSC move came after other Republicans jumped back on the Akin train this week. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), one of the Republicans who called on Akin to quit, said Tuesday that he would help Akin win.
“[We] don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change.” Blunt said in a statement. “I’ll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin.”
Republicans who never thought Akin should drop out have been amping up their support for him in recent days as well. On Wednesday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rick Santorum endorsed Akin and a couple days before that Akin was joined on the campaign trail by Newt Gingrich.
National Democrats were as unsurprised as Sanders was at these developments.
“No one should’ve been fooled by the party’s faux outrage and their ensuing change of course because as the Republican establishment is making clear today, the Akin backlash was never about principle, it was purely about politics,” DSCC spokesperson Shripal Shah said in a statement. He suggested Akin will be part of the national election.
“The fact is that in today’s GOP, Todd Akin actually represents the party’s mainstream,” he said. “All Republican candidates across the country are going to have to answer for Todd Akin’s extremism on election day.”