Former presidential candidateÂ Rick SantorumÂ and South Carolina Sen. JimÂ DeMintÂ backed Akin one day after the final deadline passed for him to get off the ballot. The Republican Senate campaign committee, whose chairman had asked Akin to abandon the race, now says it hopes he wins. And Republican Sen.Â Roy Blunt, a party leader in the Senate, dropped his opposition to Akin’s candidacy, saying he will support his fellow Missourian.
WithÂ RepublicansÂ struggling in their bid to pick up the four seats they need to wrest control of the Senate, some have calculated they must back Akin. Missouri still represents perhaps the party’s best chance to defeat an incumbent Democrat.
“If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stopÂ President Obama‘s liberal agenda, we must defeat Sen.Â Claire McCaskillin Missouri,” Santorum and DeMint said in a statement sent to donors and posted on Facebook. “Todd Akin is a principled conservative who is committed to winning and fighting for freedom in the U.S. Senate.”
Support from these members of the fiscal and social conservative flanks of the party raises the question of whether other GOP leaders in Washington and Missouri will follow â€” and open the door for campaign money to flow to the race.
“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,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Despite the controversy, Akin had retained support from two big-name conservatives:Â Mike HuckabeeÂ and Newt Gingrich.
DemocratsÂ have sought to use Akin’s views to tarnish Republicans in other races. On Wednesday, Sen.Â Patty MurrayÂ of Washington, the head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, called GOP support for Akin “absolutely shameful.”
“All Republican candidates across the country are now going to have to answer for their party’s support of Akin,” she said.
The controversy began in August when an interviewer asked Akin whether rape victims should be able to get anÂ abortion. Akin said it was “rare” for a rape victim to become pregnant. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”