The GOP establishment on Tuesday closed the last door on embattled Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, sending the conservative a clear message that they want him out of the race against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill for his earlier "legitimate rape" comments.
Sources tell Secrets that the Karl Rove-founded Super PAC, American Crossroads, formally withdrew advertising reservations it had with Missouri TV stations for the last two weeks of September. Ever since Akin make his remarks, Crossroads and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their ads, starving Akin of millions in advertising.
Both groups are hopeful that Akin bows out before a September 25 petition deadline to get off the ballot passes. Akin has vowed to stay in and believes that national groups will pour money into the race after the deadline passes.
Local and national conservatives told Secrets that they are working to build support for Akin, who they feel has been unfairly punished for the comments he has since apologized for. They have attacked Washington donors for raising money from pro-life donors to help Akin then reneging on that promise to spend it on his campaign.
Akin has aggressively attacked Rove and the NRSC for abandoning him. As a result, neither are expected to fund his campaign even if he stays in. What's more, they believe he will lose to McCaskill, robbing the GOP of its slim chance to take control of the Senate.
McCaskill is outspending Akin about four-to-one on TV. Neither she nor other Democrats are playing up the rape comment--for now. But once the deadline passes and Akin is in for good, GOP officials expect McCaskill's campaign to unleash a wave of ads targeting the comment.
A top Washington GOP strategist said, "This is a campaign that is literally living in fantasyland. They appear to be out of money, no Missouri elected officials want to be seen campaigning with him and they are oblivious to the fact that the Democrats' are purposefully not litigating his rape comment until after the deadline passes."
Unclear is whether a Missouri Republican is ready to step in if Akin bows out. Speculation has focused on former Sens. Kit Bond and John Danforth. GOP officials said that they would be surprised if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't pushing either to replace Akin.