Until the absolute last deadline passed for Todd Akin to drop out of the Senate race in Missouri, his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill, had to pretend she wasn't all that interested in campaigning against him, and Republicans had to pretend they had zero interest in winning control of the Senate by any means possible. That deadline passed Tuesday. Now the fun begins. Update: Now the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it might send money Akin's way, after insisting he was cut off last month.
RELATED: Claire McCaskill and How to Attack the Opponent You're Rooting For
Sen. Claire McCaskill, considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators going into this election cycle, wanted Akin to be her opponent so bad she spent $2 million advertising in the Republican primary, bashing two of the candidates as unethical but Akin as just too conservative for Missouri. It worked, and Akin won. A couple weeks later, he made his "legitimate rape" comments, and nearly every prominent state and national Republican called on him to quit the campaign. That didn't happen. So on Wednesday, McCaskill released her real anti-Akin ad, which notes Akin said Medicare is unconstitutional and that he'd eliminate student loans, and concludes, "And on Aug. 19, Todd Akin said only some rapes are legitimate. What will he say next?"
RELATED: Akin Nostalgic for a More 'Ladylike' McCaskill
McCaskill is averaging a 5.3-point lead in polls, and Akin has had money problems. But this isn't the only Senate race Republicans thought was winnable but now threaten their chances of winning a Senate majority. So the rehabilitation of Akin has begun. One of those very Republicans who demanded Akin quit is now back on his side. In August, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt circulated a letter signed by every living Republican former senator calling on Akin to quit. Late Tuesday night, he released a statement saying:
Congressman Akin and I don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change. From Gov. Romney to the county courthouse, I'll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin.
Earlier this week, Sen. Jim DeMint floated the idea of sending Akin money from his PAC, since the National Republican Senatorial Committee withdrew support. DeMint endorsed Akin Wednesday. So did former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, following Newt Gingrich on Monday. In St. Louis, Gingrich explained the state of the race clearly: "If Todd and the people of Missouri prove it's a close race, what’s the moral case for not backing the Republican nominee picked by the people of Missouri who is in a close race with an incumbent liberal Democrat?" Politico reports. "I don't see how any national Republican in good conscience after tomorrow has any choice except to [support Akin]... And I expect all of them will be in by mid-October."
RELATED: Akin's GOP Rehabilitation Proceeding Quickly