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What's keeping Todd Akin in Senate race? (+video)

Republican Senate contender Todd Akin expressed a determination to stay in the race, even amidst advice from others in his party to step down. He says his comments relating to rape boil down to 'one word in one sentence on one day.' 

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In eastern Jackson County, Mo., at Truman Road and Missouri 291, supporter Ellen Bishop of Buckner on Tuesday removed a pair of 4-by-8 foot Akin campaign signs that had been vandalized prior to the candidate’s controversial remarks. She pledged to return them in late September or early October. She said she’s standing by Akin, but is unhappy with the Republican Party for abandoning him.

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“I’m discouraged by the Republican Party’s response because anyone who knows Todd Akin knows that at no point did he say rape was lawful in some way,” Bishop said. “The man has represented our state for 12 years. You can’t choose a better guy to come up against the McCaskill-Obama team.”

By day’s end, however, not one prominent GOP elected official in Missouri had stepped forward to defend Akin, and some Republicans said privately that the continuing focus on Akin is distracting Republicans from what they want to focus on — the economy, the lack of jobs and President Barack Obama’s performance in office.

Democratic operatives were keeping a tally of which Republican officials had denounced Akin, and which had yet to do so.

Political observers around Missouri, and even the head of the Republican National Committee, continued to express doubt about whether Akin can mount an effective campaign. Although several pointed out the race remains close — and might be all the way through Election Day — the long-term prospects for Akin’s campaign were dubious.

They said he likely will have little money, he’ll be shunned by Republican office-holders and removing the spotlight from his controversial rape remarks will be difficult, if not impossible.

“He’ll be a huge underdog going into the general election,” said Dave Robertson, a political scientist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. “I would say he’s damaged goods.”

James Staab, a political scientist at the University of Central Missouri, added, “It’s going to be very difficult to turn it around.”

On CNN, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, admitted Akin will struggle to beat McCaskill without much money.

“I mean, we’re not going to send any money toward that race or spend money on the ground in that particular race,” Priebus said. “I’ve already called off the phone banks and all of the volunteers for Congressman Akin’srace there.”

But former Missouri GOP chairman Woody Cozad countered that no race 10 weeks before Election Day is over.

“Nothing’s beyond repair,” Cozad said. “He is not damaged beyond repair because that’s hard to do in American politics. Claire McCaskill is damaged goods.”

Carl Bearden, a former state lawmaker who now heads the conservative lobbying group United for Missouri, said Akin can survive if he can get through the next few weeks.

“The key is to…keep focused on the economy and why Missouri is not being well served by Senator McCaskill supporting the Obama agenda.

“His problem will be if the money really does dry up, how does he get his message out?”

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