The social conservative leaders who will gather in Washington over the next two days for the annual Values Voter Summit will likely represent the biggest group of unabashed Todd Akin supporters in the nation’s capital since his campaign exploded in controversy.
Akin is persona non grata among the Republican Party’s leadership in D.C., a fact he’s leveraging in eyebrow-raising ways to win votes in the Missouri Senate race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).
In crude viral graphics, professional-looking web ads and interviews, Akin is openly
casting the party leaders who tried to get him to drop out the race in Missouri as his opponents, focusing as much attention on other Republicans as his actual opponent. Priebus and other party officials have effectively excommunicated Akin over his
“legitimate rape” comments, which roiled national politics last month.
When Akin stayed in the race, Republicans and their allies pulled out, prompting Akin to deploy a “Todd Hates Everyone” strategy: He calls leaders of his own party “corrupt” and accuses them of being moderate puppet-masters in web ads and on his campaign site. The strategy is basically a collage of the vitriolic language from a modern tea party primary, deployed as general election messaging.
On Thursday, the Akin campaign posted this amateurish Photoshop job to Akin’s Facebook page:
In web ads, Akin attacks GOP leaders like Priebus and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn, calling them “corrupt party bosses”:
Akin’s using the same language on the campaign trail.
“This is a fight that goes beyond Missouri,” Akin told supporters in Ozark, Mo., Wednesday. “What we are saying is conservatives are welcome in the Republican Party.”
“In particular,” reported the Springfield News-Leader, “he accused top national Republican leaders, such as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, of not being comfortable with having strong social conservatives in the party.”
Akin is still running against McCaskill, making his campaign a mix of attacks on the many Republicans who’ve publicly said he shouldn’t be a senator in the wake of the “legitimate rape” fallout, and the Democrats who have said so all along. But reports of Akins recent return to full-time campaigning find him focusing much of his attention on the Republican Party.
The Akin campaign and the RNC did not respond to requests for comment on the strategy.
A Democrat paying close attention to the race in Missouri called the veracity of Akin’s attacks on his own party “remarkable” but also said the strategy is classic Akin.
“This is just Todd being Todd,” the Democrat said. “He’s never owed Republican Party leaders anything because they never supported him. That’s why it had zero effect when they called on him to drop out.”
That said, the degree of open hostility aimed at the GOP coming out of the Akin campaign is a surprise.
“I don’t think anyone expected him to be this brazen,” the Democrat said. “But I don’t see what he has to lose.”