You might have believed that Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency was somewhat competent until the afternoon that he called for Todd Akin (D-MO) to quit the Senate race.
At first, it seemed like a brilliant move — Mitt’s very own Sister Souljah moment, where he turned against the extremes of his party to make a stand for decency. Akin had humiliated the party by touting the palaver of fundamentalist email forwards as actual science with his now-infamous claim that victims of “legitimate rape” cannot get pregnant.
Here was Mitt’s chance to join the moderate voices in his party like Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and his own party chairman Little Lord Reince Priebus in shutting Akin down — thus convincing women that he really isn’t as scary as liberals would like them to believe.
Akin heard the full-throated plea of his party nominee to step aside and then went on Sean Hannity’s radio show and said, “Why couldn’t he run his race and I’ll run mine?
That Romney went out on a limb and proved to the country that he has no sway with the extremists in his party proved that he was a candidate with no discernible “Souljah.”
Republicans continued to call for Akin to step down when there was still a chance of getting another Republican on the ballot in the race that could decide the Senate.
Then came the final deadline for Akin to leave the race. The congressman was defiant, and chose to remain. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — the guys who almost beat Romney — rushed to Missouri to join Mike Huckabee – the guy who could have beaten Romney — in supporting Akin.
And they weren’t alone. On Friday, Reince Priebus told a reporter that he “absolutely” supports Akin and may even send him money — completely reversing his stand of only a few weeks ago.
What changed? Had Akin moved to the center and become more rational?
Actually, he’d embarrassed himself and his party twice in the days before Preibus’ comments. Once by saying his opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), wasn’t being as “ladylike” as she’d been in her last campaign. Then he argued employers should be able to discriminate against women because that represents “freedom.”
But will the GOP support him?