Late yesterday afternoon, Mitt Romney released a statement explicitly calling on Todd Akin to withdraw from Missouri’s Senate race.
“Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race,” the statement read.
Akin, of course, ignored this. A few hours later, the statutory deadline for a no-questions-asked candidate switch passed and Akin remained the Republican nominee. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll still be around in November; in a series of morning show interview today, he indicatedthat he might still reconsider his candidacy. But for now, he’s defied his party’s soon-to-be presidential nominee, who also apparently enlisted his running-mate in the effort to push Akin out.
In and of itself, this doesn’t say much about Romney’s clout within his party. After all, literally dozens of leading Republicans have publicly and privately pleaded with Akin to withdraw, urgings that have been backed by threats from the GOP’s national Senate campaign committee and its top outside money group to withhold critical financial support. If Akin is willing to thumb his nose at all of this, then it’s hardly surprising he’d do the same to Romney.