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Akin thumbs his nose at GOP, stays in Senate race

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said yesterday he intended to stay in Missouri's U.S. Senate race, but there was some question as to whether the decision was final, and whether he might be swayed by intra-party pressure. With an important procedural deadline just four hours away, Akin had to make a formal decision.

He did. The right-wing congressman appeared on Mike Huckabee's radio show this afternoon to declare, "We are going to continue with this race for the United States Senate." Jed Lewison posted this audio clip of the interview:

This covers the first 11 minutes of the appearance; there's a second part of the recording online here.

Note, the Republican congressman doesn't seem to think his remarks were too big a deal, arguing he "misspoke one word, in one sentence, in one day." Akin is, in other words, oblivious to the larger significance, and he went so far as to say the outrage seems like "a little bit of an overreaction."

I'm a little surprised Akin's sticking around, but it's worth keeping in mind that the GOP establishment has never really done him any favors, so Akin doesn't feel especially indebted to the party power brokers telling him what to do. For that matter, if he quit, his career in public service would effectively be permanently finished. By sticking around, Akin still has a realistic shot at winning a U.S. Senate seat.

The question now becomes whether that's realistic.

The RNC, NRSC, American Crossroads, and Romney/Ryan have all said they're washing their hands of Todd Akin, and won't direct any resources his way. Time will tell if they keep that promise -- if it's a close race in October, do they really follow through on these threats? -- but if Akin has no outside support, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) maintains the strong support of her party, she has to be considered the favorite for re-election.

One factor to keep an eye on is just how much damage Akin's controversy does to the party's national ambitions -- it's not hard to imagine his comments quickly becoming an albatross around the GOP's neck for the rest of the campaign, especially as the party enshrines Akin's anti-abortion stance in the national platform, and we count up the culture-war bills Paul Ryan has co-sponsored with Akin.

For now, however, McCaskill is relieved, the GOP establishment is fuming, and Akin is looking for cash.