There are only 76 days until Election Day.
The Republican National Convention begins in just five days.
This is supposed to be the time when Republicans get excited about the coming convention and general election. You know, excited like they were a week or so ago when Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan to be his Vice Presidential running mate.
The problem is that the news media is once again distracted by a comment made by Todd Akin, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri. Regardless of whether you feel that Akin should get out of the race or stay, one cannot escape the fact that his remarks play right into the Democrat playbook that takes attention from economic issues and allows the left reenergize their so-called gender war.
In Iowa, Congressman Boswell, Congressman Loebsack, and Christie Vilsack have all used the Akin incident to paint their opponents as extremists who have no respect for women. In addition to linking their opponents to Akin, Iowa Democrats are also trying to raise a buck or two off of Akin’s poor choice of words. As the old saying goes, never let a tragedy or controversy go to waste.
It’s not just Iowa Democrats who are using the Akin ordeal to their benefit, Democrats from all across the nation are having a heyday with it. It’s not just that it fits nicely with their preference to use gender and class warfare. No, what Democrats are ecstatic about is what is not being talked about, the massive amount of debt they racked up in Obama’s first term, the huge expansion of government control in our lives, and a still sputtering economy that is weighed down by over-regulation and taxation.
I’m sympathetic to those conservatives who don’t like the fact that Akin is being asked to get out of the race because of something he said. It’s frustrating when the Vice President of the United States can play the race card at a campaign event and is basically ignored by the mainstream media. Like the Democrats, the media loves class and gender warfare because it whips people into a frenzy, and thus sells some extra newspapers.
Still, Akin is a distraction that is not going to go away until he does. That is why Republican leaders like Mitt Romney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have publically asked Akin to step down. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, two big spenders in U.S. Senate campaigns, have also joined the chorus of Republicans asking Akin to step aside.
Akin has defiantly stated that he will remain in the race, and he also said that Romney should mind his own business. Some conservatives agree with Akin and say, “What is the GOP going to do, ignore Missouri?”
The short answer is yes, and not because they disagree with what Akin said last weekend.
Like any candidate, Akin must show that his race is worth the investment of millions of dollars. There is no doubt that the Missouri Senate seat that is currently occupied by Sen. Claire McCaskill is one of the better pick-up opportunities for Republicans, but Akin’s recent comments require damage control, and that’s not how the NRSC and outside groups use their financial resources.
Some have pointed to a recent poll that shows Akin still leading McCaskill in the race. The problem is that Akin is still in the earned media phase of the controversy, just wait until the Democrats start running ads that feature his comments. Akin’s numbers will likely plummet. With only a little over two months until Election Day, time is not on Akin’s side. Republicans could spend millions of dollars helping Akin remake his image, but it still might not be enough to salvage his campaign.
The Missouri seat may have been one of the better opportunities for Republicans to pick up a seat in the Senate, but it is not the only race that Republicans have to invest in. Republicans also have pick up opportunities in favorable states like Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Those are all states where incumbent Democrats are retiring.
In addition to those states, there are seats that Republicans must hold due to retirements, or in some cases where the incumbents were defeated in the primary. There are also some Republican incumbents who are simply in need of assistance if they hope to retain their seats. So, while the Missouri seat presents the GOP a good opportunity, it would be foolish to pour money into a rehabilitation effort when there are other seats where Republicans and their allies can go on the offensive.
Some will scoff at the idea of writing off a seat, but it happens all the time. In all cases, the candidate is to blame, not the party. For example, Iowa Republicans are not about to pour a lot of money into state senate district 34, despite its favorable registration numbers. First, the Democrat incumbent will be difficult to beat. Secondly, the Republican candidate flaked out, joined some secret government, and dropped out of the race. It just doesn’t make sense to pour money into a race unless you have a chance to win.
Sadly, Akin did have a chance to win, but his comment about “legitimate rape” not only blew up in his face, but it blew up his chances to become a U.S. Senator. Republicans and their allies would have invested heavily in the race had it not been for his mistake, but you can’t blame them for not pumping money into a race where that has turned into a salvage effort.
If Akin is somehow able to right the ship and weather the storm, there is a chance that he could get some financial assistance. That scenario is difficult to see happening, but since Akin has pledged to remain in the race, that’s what he must be banking on.
We must remember, it’s not the NRSC or any other group that puts money into these races that said something stupid to knock the Akin campaign off track, it was the candidate himself. Sure, he apologized for the comment, but now it’s Akin’s responsibility to earn back the trust of the voters and those who help fund these races. He has nobody to blame but himself.