Missouri Republican Rep. W. Todd Akin is still flying mostly solo in his race for U.S. Senate, but some bright spots have appeared on his horizon as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich campaigned with him Monday and a conservative major super PAC confirmed it's seriously considering helping him out.
While Mr. Akin remains ostracized by major Republican Party organizations for his widely criticized comments last month on "legitimate rape" and pregnancy, the possibility of financial help from Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund means that virtually no one now thinks he will drop out of his race against Democratic freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill by the final deadline on Tuesday.
Mr. Akin said Monday he has spoken with the fund, but doesn't yet know for sure whether it will provide any dollars for his impoverished Senate campaign. It would be welcome relief after the Republican congressman from St. Louis was dumped by the national party last month in the uproar over his rape comments made to a local television interviewer.
But even that good news brought Mr. Akin an unwelcome bit of attention on his past support for congressional earmarks — a record that would ordinarily disqualify a candidate from being supported by Mr. DeMint's fund, which only backs candidates who oppose earmarks.
While Mr. Akin has previously obtained congressional earmarks for his district, he agreed to oppose them in the future in return for help with his race, the National Journal reported last week.
Mrs. McCaskill immediately pounded, accusing Mr. Akin of reversing his position in order to pocket campaign cash.
Her campaign released a video Monday showing clips of Mr. Akin, where he said it would be unconstitutional to entirely ban congressionally directed spending earmarks, and highlighted one of his primary ads that touted a life saved by federal funding that some considered an earmark.
"What kind of Washington politician runs an ad defending earmarks in the primary, then two months later turns around and changes his position on a dime, for a dime?" said McCaskill spokesman Caitlin Legacki. "This is exactly the kind of transactional politics that makes people sick."
The Senate Conservatives Fund has raised more than $11 million for other Senate candidates. It could offer a huge boost to Mr. Akin's finances — and his campaign's morale — at a time when recent polls have put Mrs. McCaskill, widely considered one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents this year, in the lead.
The Republican National Committee and top conservative "super PACs" have said they will not offer financial support for Mr. Akin's candidacy, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and others have strongly urged Mr. Akin to quit the race. Since then, the 65-year-old congressman has raised nearly $600,000 through an online appeal highlighting his fight against both President Obama and the GOP establishment in Washington.
In the meantime, Mr. Akin plans to keep trekking around the state this week. Mr. Gingrich helped him raise funds on Monday and the congressman has scheduled a bus tour on Tuesday.
Along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mr. Gingrich is one of just a handful of leading Republicans who have not asked Mr. Akin to step down. But Mr. Gingrich predicted that will soon change.
"There's no poll that shows this race is impossible," he said. "I believe by mid-October all [Republican supporters] will be in."
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