Republicans across the board shunned Rep. Todd Akin for his rape comments back in August, but South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is now working feverishly to help his friend win the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri against embattled Democrat Claire McCaskill.
“He took a big hit when he got his foot in his mouth,” said DeMint. “He has asked forgiveness. He’s got a good voting record and we are doing everything we can to still win that seat. For me, it’s a choice between Todd Akin and Harry Reid.”
When DeMint uses the word “we”, he is referring to his Senate Conservatives Fund PAC and not the GOP establishment. DeMint says the PAC has already raised $100,000 for Akin and could kick in $500,000 by November 6. However, both the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee still refuse to assist Akin despite polls showing the race essentially tied.
“They thought it was not winnable after he said that,” said DeMint. “They’re finding out that Sen. Claire McCaskill is pretty unpopular in Missouri and people understand the implications of a majority when it comes to Supreme Court justices.”
DeMint says the national party now likely feels as though it cannot change positions after taking such a public stance back in August. Nonetheless, he believes the RNC or NRSC might jump in in the final days if leaders believe it will make a difference.
DeMint understands the uproar over Akin suggesting that women’s bodies can often naturally prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” but he says the right thing is to look at the totality of Akin’s record.
“It’s important what we say, but he’s got a voting record and he’s done the right thing over more than a decade,” said DeMint, who noted contributors to his PAC voted overwhelmingly to provide financial backing for Akin. “When the Senate Conservatives Fund…queried its members about what we should do, about 95 percent of them responded they we should get in there and help him. Folks understand the implications of that race and it could be the one that determines whether or not we’ve got a majority and can pass a budget and can actually get some things done with a President Romney.”
For DeMint, it’s a case of putting his money where his mouth is. Last month, DeMint told us that it might be best for the party’s electoral hopes if Akin withdrew from the race but insisted if Akin chose to stay that the party should fully support him. DeMint is bullish in general on the GOP’s chances to claim the majority in the Senate. He believes the party will pick up seats in Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana and Missouri and have good chances in Virginia, Ohio and maybe even Pennsylvania.
He acknowledges some Republicans have tough races to keep their seats, but expects the party to hang in in places like Arizona and Indiana. He’s also hopeful Scott Brown can hang on in Massachusetts and that the GOP might even be able to score an upset win in Pennsylvania. Overall, DeMint predicts a 4-5 seat gain for the GOP, which would be enough to claim the majority regardless of who wins the White House.