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Steve Kraske | Akin has much of the GOP achin’

Steve Kraske
Steve Kraske

Who’s crazier: me, for flying into a hurricane to cover the Republican National Convention, or you, for reading a column written by a guy flying into a hurricane?

• So now I guess we have the answer to the week’s most pressing question. Todd Akin is staying in the Senate race all the way through November, or at least that’s what he said Friday.

You buy that? I guess I do — now. He’s said it too many times, and his most loyal supporter, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, is out on a limb with Akin now. Huckabee shot out a blistering email blast Thursday in which he attacked the GOP infrastructure for placing a bounty on Akin’s head.

“Who ordered this ‘Code Red’ on Akin?” Huckabee thundered. “Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees. Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out. Money has changed hands to push him off the plank. It is disgraceful.”

Until Friday afternoon, the betting line was that Akin eventually would bail out. That idea gained some currency Thursday night with the news that Akin appeared to be reassessing his candidacy.

But at this point, Akin has sealed the deal. He’s launched a crusade.

In three decades of covering politics, I’ve never seen the door slam on a candidate as quickly as this one on Akin. You can’t help but conclude that establishment Republicans used his highly inappropriate remarks on rape victims as an excuse to run him out.

The speed with which the GOP establishment moved suggests that many weren’t happy with a politician who already had raised eyebrows with his responses to questions on school lunches, student loans and civil rights.

His narrow lead over McCaskill wasn’t calming jangly nerves either, not with this race possibly determining control of the U.S. Senate next year.

Combine all that with Akin’s standing as something of a loner within the GOP, with few friends to pick him up, and the script was written. In the view of party leaders, Akin had to go, and go quickly.

• One big question that convention week will sort out is just how much of a schism has developed between religious conservatives in Missouri and the GOP establishment over Akin.

• Akin isn’t the only one who wishes he could have that interview back from Sunday that landed him in such hot water. So does KTVI-TV reporter Charles Jaco, who asked the question that got things rolling.

Jaco is now saying he should have followed up Akin’s remark that women have a biological ability to ward off pregnancies resulting from “legitimate” rape.

Having sat in Jaco’s shoes for years, I feel his pain. I’d pay money to have heard how Akin would have responded to the question: “Congressman, what exactly are you talking about?”

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