Politico's reporting Akin is withdrawing, while the Wall St. Journal reports that he's staying. Is he gone? We should know any minute. Obviously, Democrats would like to see him stay (because it greatly improves McCaskill's chances) but if he does leave, he presents another problem for Republicans: namely, that Akin clearly represents the far-fringe Tea partiers who voted for him. Does his withdrawal depress their base turnout?
Fearing a likely election victory is now in doubt, Republican leaders and candidates on Monday called on Missouri Rep. Todd Akin to abandon his bid for a crucial Senate seat because of his suggestion that women's bodies can avert pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape.''
Mr. Akin had been running ahead in polls of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is widely considered the most endangered Senate incumbent. But were he to lose, the GOP's chances of recapturing a majority in the Senate and enacting a sweeping conservative agenda would be reduced. Republicans control the House and hope to overturn a 53-47 Democratic majority in the Senate.
The high stakes in the race prompted an unusually public campaign by Republicans to persuade Mr. Akin to step aside, despite his victory in a hard-fought primary just two weeks ago. If Mr. Akin does not quit the race by 5 p.m. Tuesday, he would have to seek a court order to do so. Mr. Akin suggested Monday he had no plans to drop out.
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), who leads the Republican Party effort to win Senate seats, called Mr. Akin Monday, according to a Republican official. Mr. Akin was told that if he stays in, "he is putting not just this seat but the GOP's prospects for a Senate majority at great risk," the official said.
UPDATE: TPM reports that Akin says he's staying in:
Appearing on Gov. Mike Huckabee's radio show on Tuesday, Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said he was indeed staying in the race.
"I want to make things absolutely clear," Akin told Huckabee. "We are going to continue with this race for the United States Senate.
Akin added that his campaign is seeing a "tremendous outpouring of support" from grassroots organizations.