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Republicans Want to Distance From Todd Akin, Not His Policies on Abortion UPDATE: Akin Staying In

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, attempting to beat the clock with about five hours to go before the first hurdle of getting Todd Akin off the ballot in Missouri passes, released a list of conservative pundits who have asked Akin to step down.

Like Digby, I’m struck that the NRSC needs to do this, to elevate radio talkers as the most influential voices in the conservative movement. We’ve always suspected this to be the case, but here’s confirmation. It’s more important that Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jim Geragthy, Dennis Prager, Charles Krauthammer, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter and the editorial boards of the National Review and the Wall Street Journal call on Akin to step down than any politician.

And the slip really shows here. Not one of these talkers thinks that Akin should resign his elected position in Congress because of these remarks. They just want him to step aside for a more electable candidate. The cynicism of this is apparent. Louie Gohmert says something this crazy every Wednesday, as per his contract. The difference is that he’s not in a contested race for Senate. Heck, the entire Fast and Furious scandal is predicated on a conspiracy theory about Democrats deliberately causing gun violence to further a political goal, maybe not as totally nuts as rape-activated Sperm-a-way, but pretty nuts. Establishment Republicans knew Akin was capable of this, and they’re taking their shot to rid themselves of him. What’s more, they’re employing their hired hands, who “speak the language” of the base, to make sure this gets understood clearly.

As proof that nobody on the Republican side has a problem with the content of the remarks but only the timing and the messenger and the related political campaign damage, you need only look at the fact that the GOP put the “Human Life Amendment” into their campaign platform, which calls for a ban on abortion without an exception for rape. They may not have included the physiology that Akin did in his initial remarks, but the policy advocacy is identical.

As for whether Republicans will get their way, with the exact same position on abortion while being free of the taint of Todd Akin, well, we’ll know in a few hours. . . .

UPDATE: And there it is. Todd Akin says he will stay in the race for Senate in Missouri; he just announced it on Mike Huckabee’s radio show.

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David Dayen

David Dayen