TAMPA — Missouri GOP delegates are rejecting the heavy-handed push by Mitt Romney and national Republicans to boot Todd Akin from their state’s Senate race, revealing a split among Republicans that could imperil the party’s effort to take back the chamber in the fall campaign.
In interviews with POLITICO, delegates argued that Akin could still win the race in the conservative state, pushing back against the notion that his remarks on rape were a death blow to his Senate candidacy. Several delegates here in Tampa seemed angry at the national party, saying the decision to withhold millions of dollars in campaign funding is the real impediment in their effort to oust Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November.
“Absolutely,” said John Putnam of Carthage, Mo., when asked if he was disappointed at Romney for demanding that Akin exit the race. “I think he needs to rescind that, retract that. I think [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus and [Sen.] Roy Blunt and all the people need to support the candidate that the folks from Missouri nominated and picked in the primary.