Republican Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, the man who once said women's bodies can shut down a pregnancy during a "legitimate rape," may not be as toxic a candidate as Republicans once thought.
Akin's ginning up support from not only GOP insubordinates like former presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, but according to a new survey, has the backing of the party's base.
Jim DeMint's Super PAC, the Senate Conservative Fund, sent a letter to its members earlier this week probing how many of them would be willing to throw their money toward Akin.
Of the 8,000 voters polled, 93 percent said they were behind Akin and pledged to give $290,000 to help him get his campaign off of the ground.
"We're going to do everything we can to help Todd Akin raise the money he needs to win, but we also hope our efforts will encourage others to support him as well," says Matt Hoskins, the Senate Conservative Fund's executive director. "This a competitive race, and it could determine control of the Senate and whether we're able to repeal Obamacare."
With fewer than three days until the Federal Election Commission filing deadline for September draws to a close, Senate Conservatives set a goal of raising $100,000 for Akin before Sunday.
The endorsement isn't all sunny news for Akin, though. The Missouri Democrats have filed an ethics complaint with the FEC against Akin over the endorsement, arguing the candidate violated campaign finance laws and coordinated with the Senate Conservative Fund. Democrats charge that Akin, a long defender of earmarks, reversed his position in order earn the Super PAC's support.
Republican heavyweights ran far from Akin in August after his "legitimate rape" gaffe, but recent polls paint a picture of a close race. And GOP leaders recognize that an Akin win would push Republicans closer to overtaking the U.S. Senate majority in November. [Super PAC Considers Intervention in Akin Race]
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had threatened to withhold its resources from the Missouri senate race if Akin remained the nominee, released a statement Wednesday endorsing him.
"There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people's lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country, that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill," said Rob Jesmer, the director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "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."
If the NRSC does reverse course, Democrats are likely to try to tie more moderate Republicans to one of the GOP's most socially conservative nominees.
Already, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a statement Thursday trying to link Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown to his "party bosses."
"A vote for Brown is a vote for Todd Akin's extreme views," the release says.
The DSCC points out that Brown has raised nearly $4 million for the NRSC and therefore supported all of its candidates.
"Todd Akin's views represent the official position of the Republican Party, and a vote for Brown is a vote to inflict that anti-woman agenda on the entire country," says Guy Cecil, executive director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Brown's silence speaks volumes. Brown should immediately demand his money back and renounce the party's decision to embrace Todd Akin."