Republicans watched incredulously Tuesday as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, under intense pressure from both sides of the political aisle to give up his Senate bid, let the 5 p.m. exit deadline come and go.
Behind that decision was the influence of one influential man: Rex Elsass.
Akin has been under fire since he told a Missouri radio station Sunday that in "a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
But hundreds of miles away from the Beltway, Akin is riding out the criticism under the quiet counsel of Elsass, a colorful and powerful GOP consultant based in Ohio.
According to Politico's Mike Allen, Akin has "been in a bunker" "holed up" at Elsass's office, which is located in a sprawling historic building in Delaware County, Ohio called the Gooding House. According to Time's Mark Halperin, Elsass now has the most influence in Akin's decision, and "is urging Akin to stay in, ride out the storm."
At 49, Elsass presides over Strategy Group for Media, one of the country's largest political media firms, though it keeps a low profile in Washington.
Elsass is also a born-again Christian, and known for flaunting his wealth. A January profile of the consultant in The Columbus Dispatch described him as owning a Bentley, but being driven around town by a chaffeur in a Cadillac Escalade. For long distance journeys, he uses a company jet.
Elsass has likely earned his money on big-ticket candidates, including having advised three GOP presidential wannabes: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. He is currently advising Ohio Gov. John Kasich on his re-election campaign.
It is unclear whether Akin took on Elsass before or after his comments on rape.
Elsass did not respond to request for comment via E-mail, and the Strategy Group for Media told U.S. News Elsass was "completely out of pocket."
But Elsass clearly believes this is a storm Akin can ride out. A Monday Public Policy Polling survey found Akin was leading his opponent for Senate, current Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, even after his comments by 44 percent to 43 percent, a lead close to unchanged from May.
And Elsass has gotten his hands dirty before. The Dispatch describes him as "once a ringleader of a GOP dirty-tricks group labeled the 'nasty boys.'" In 1994, Elsass was involved in scandal around the use of campaign contributors apparently stolen from the Ohio Republican party.
He seems happy to get his hands dirty again now. After being holed up with Elsass Tuesday, Akin re-emerged Wednesday morning on NBC's Today, where the Missouri congressman reiterated that he was staying in the race.
"It makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process," Akin stubbornly told Today. If Elsass has his way, the party bosses won't.
- Read Robert Schlesinger: Todd Akin, What Is 'Legitimate Rape'?
- Read Susan Milligan: The Real Issue in Todd Akin's Abortion Comments
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.