WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Representative Todd Akin has defied Republican leaders’ calls to leave the Missouri Senate race over his inflammatory remarks about rape, but the party is using more than words to convince him to remove his name from the November 6 ballot.
Here are some ways Akin can be pushed to leave the race against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, which had been considered one of the best Republican hopes for capturing the four seats the party needs to gain a majority in the 100-member U.S. Senate.
* Money. Funds are the key to politics - to pay for advertising, cover staff salaries, operate offices and finance countless other pieces of a busy campaign. The national Republican Senate committee has already said it will hold back $5 million it had earmarked for the Missouri race if Akin stays in. American Crossroads, a major conservative Super PAC, which had already spent $4.5 million in Missouri, also said it would stop spending in the state.
With the well-funded McCaskill and her supporters smelling potential victory and ready to spend millions of dollars in a race the Democrats also desperately want to win, that loss of financial support could be devastating for Akin.
* Support. With Republicans from all quarters of the party asking Akin to step aside, he cannot expect to spend time campaigning with better-known figures. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he wants Akin to go, and so has Missouri’s current Republican senator, Roy Blunt.
Akin, who represents a district in the St. Louis suburbs, is not well-known statewide. He won 36 percent of the vote in the primary two weeks ago, just 6 points ahead of the second-place finisher, so he would miss the big-name support.
* Profile. The party can keep Akin out of national and local events. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has already said he does not want Akin to attend next week’s national convention in Tampa, Florida.
Local Republicans can also keep Akin away. The Butler County (Missouri) Republican Central Committee has already unanimously disinvited Akin to its Reagan Day Dinner on September 8.
* Pressure. Some anti-abortion groups have come out on Akin’s behalf, but their politically savvy leaders would be aware they have little to gain by falling out of favor with Republican leaders by doing too much for him.
State and national Republican committees can also pressure Akin’s finance chairmen and other local officials to back away or risk losing their own positions within the party.
* Boots off the ground. With the national party shunning Akin, he cannot make use of the Republicans’ state “Victory” offices, which run phone banks and send out volunteers to knock on doors on behalf of state and local Republican candidates.
“It’s like he’s become a third-party candidate. He has none of the advantages of being the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate right now,” Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said.
*Incentives. It is not clear whether Akin accumulated debt during his primary - his campaign does not have to file its next financial report until October 15. As of July 18, his campaign had $531,560 cash in the bank and no debt and had raised at least $80,313 - including some $20,000 in the past 14 hours.
But if he does have debts, the national party could offer to pay them off in exchange for a graceful departure.
The party could also help him find a well-paying job. Akin is a six-term U.S. congressman and a Republican U.S. Senate nominee who was leading in polls by about 10 points before his controversial comments on Sunday. Leaving the race would likely end his political career, a blow that could be softened considerably with a lucrative position.
Additional reporting by Alexander Cohen; Editing by Peter Cooney