U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's race against incumbent Claire McCaskill is a key in the Republican Party's quest for control of the United States Senate, said former House Speaker and 2012 Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich came to Kirkwood for a fundraiser Monday and compared the current contest to the uphill fight Harry Truman faced in getting re-elected to the Senate in 1940 and later as President in 1948.
Gingrich told reporters gathered at the Kirkwood Train Station for a news conference prior to a mid-day fundraising lunch at Trattoria Branica that he expected party organizations, including Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, to start to rally back behind Akin next month ahead of November's election.
Akin has been shunned by national Republican party figures, as well as five current and former Republican U.S. Senators from Missouri, who have all urged him to drop out of the race after his controversial comments about rape and pregnancy in a television interview last month on FOX2.
Akin has rebuffed those calls, which also came from the Romney campaign, while apologizing for the comments, which he has termed, "a six second mistake."
"If saying something dumb disqualifies you, Joe Biden couldn't be Vice-President," Gingrich said Monday.
The Akin campaign faces a September 25 deadline for candidates to petition in court to remove their names from the November ballot, although The St. Louis Beacon has reported that the practical deadline has already come and gone.
Monday morning, Gingrich and Akin pointed to McCaskill's support of President Obama's healthcare reform as an example of where she fell to the left of Missouri, while rebuffing the calls from others, including Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who told ABC's This Week on Sunday that there were still questions over wether Akin would be the nominee.
Saying he "wouldn't be here" if he didn't think Todd Akin would be the nominee, Gingrich said "I can't imagine that he (Priebus) would want to risk losing Missouri for Romney by getting into some kind of divisive schismatic fight."
Akin dodged initial questions Monday about wether he would welcome back support from those in the party who were pushing him out of the race a few weeks ago, but later kidded, "have you ever heard someone running for office turn down money? I don't have any hard feelings or ill will, I am solidly behind the entire Republican team, I do that cheerfully."