WASHINGTON -- In order to get Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) out of the U.S. Senate race, Republicans pulled all the stops they could think of. Top party officials issued statements calling on him to bow out, and big-spending GOP groups vowed to stop their ads against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and not spend any money to assist Akin.
On Monday, Crossroads GPS pulled its Missouri ads that were slated to begin running two days later.
But both Crossroads and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are still holding on to airtime they have reserved in the fall, according to a Democratic source in Missouri familiar with the airtime reservations, who was not authorized to be on record. National Journal reports that the NRSC has a $4.3 million ad reservation beginning on Oct. 10 and lasting through Election Day.
Democrats have noted that Republicans could keep the airtime in case the race between Akin and McCaskill is actually tight -- and then swoop in and help out Akin at the last minute, despite promises not to do so. Missouri, after all, is key to the GOP's plan to take back the Senate. And Akin, while currently seen as an embarrassment to the party, is still a member of the party.
However, an NRSC official told The Huffington Post on condition of anonymity that the committee is keeping the airtime now in the hope that Akin still drops out. While Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. was the first -- and easiest -- deadline for Akin to drop out, he technically still has until Sept. 25, although he would then have to pay the cost of reprinting ballots. Akin has insisted he's staying in.
On Tuesday, after Akin announced his decision, NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh put out a statement reading, "We continue to hope that Congressman Akin will do the right thing for the values he holds dear, but there should be no mistake -- if he continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC."
The NRSC reserved ad time in six states in April; securing the time so early meant the committee received a cheaper rate. If the NRSC was to drop the reservation now, and then re-purchase it should Akin drop out, it would pay tens of thousands of dollars more.
When asked about the fact that the NRSC could use the airtime to help Akin if the race with McCaskill ends up being close, the committee official said, "That's a lot of hypotheticals. I would just refer to our statement and just make clear it is not a bluff."