Todd Akin gets more support from GOP leaders

U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin speaks during a rally outside the Missouri Capitol with the New Women's Group in Jefferson City, Missouri September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Sarah Conard

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – More Republican leaders came to the side of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin on Wednesday, a day after the deadline passed for him to withdraw from the race after controversial comments he made last month about rape.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had cut off financial support to Akin, said on Wednesday it backs his campaign to defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in the November 6 election. Former Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum also endorsed Akin on Wednesday.

“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Senator Claire McCaskill,” Rob Jesmer, NRSC executive director, said in a statement.

“As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead,” Jesmer said.

He did not say whether the committee would change its mind about contributing to the Akin campaign.

Many leading Republicans nationally and in Missouri disavowed Akin after his remarks in a TV interview that women have a biological defense against “legitimate rape” that keeps them from getting pregnant. Akin apologized but was urged by prominent Republicans to drop out. The deadline for him to withdraw from the race passed on Tuesday.

The NRSC support came on the heels of word Tuesday from the Senate Conservatives Fund that it may put money into his campaign. The Missouri Republican Party also backed Akin on Tuesday after earlier saying he should consider quitting.

Santorum and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a Tea Party leader and major backer of the Senate Conservatives Fund, endorsed Akin on Wednesday.

“Todd Akin is a principled conservative who is committed to winning and fighting for freedom in the U.S. Senate,” they said in a joint statement. “Todd will work to stop reckless spending, stop the out of control debt, repeal the government takeover of health care, support our military and defend life at every stage.”

Meanwhile, the Missouri Democratic Party said it filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission alleging Akin illegally changed his position on congressional earmarks in order to get contributions from the Senate Conservatives Fund. DeMint and the fund oppose earmarks, which Akin has at times defended.

“In an attempt to salvage his campaign, Todd Akin has agreed to change his position on earmarks in an effort to secure the support of a SuperPAC – brazen and shocking behavior that is a clear violation of federal campaign laws and House ethics rules,” Mike Sanders, Missouri Democratic Party chairman, said in a news release. “As an elected member of Congress, Todd Akin should hold himself to a higher standard of conduct.”

Akin’s spokesman, Ryan Hite, did not return a call for comment on Wednesday on the Democrats’ allegations. But Akin’s campaign website responded on Friday to criticism from McCaskill about his alleged flip-flopping on earmarks.

“For the record Todd’s position on earmarks has been clear and consistent and is not in conflict with Senator DeMint’s ban on earmarks,” the website stated.

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