Our Opinion: Defiant Akin fractures GOP unity

“No man is an island,” wrote poet John Donne.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, however, must be feeling pretty lonely right now.

Akin’s effort to wrest a U.S. Senate seat from incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill has suffered a massive blow.

Prominent GOP supporters have bolted, and they’ve taken their money with them.

Their desertion was prompted by Akin’s weekend comments that women can prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

The question before Republicans is: What is more important, the goals of the many, the party, or of one candidate, Akin?

Calls for Akin to step aside came from a number of notable Republicans, including: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and four of his predecessors, former U.S. Sens. John Ashcroft, Jim Talent, Kit Bond and John Danforth.

Closer to home, Akin’s withdrawal also was urged by Republican state Sen. Mike Kehoe, who represents the 6th District that includes Jefferson City.

Compounding Akin’s woes is the withdrawal of financial support.

The campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidates already has diverted $5 million for advertising in the Missouri race. In addition, the Karl Rove-supported Crossroads organization also has pulled its advertising.

Akin believes he can bounce back. “I’m in this race for the long haul, and we’re going to win it,” he said.

Is his assertion a realistic appraisal or false bravado?

Missourians are divided, but they won’t vote until November.

More problematic today is that Republicans also are divided.

The national GOP had focused on Missouri as a potential contest where a Senate seat could be won.

Akin’s attempt at damage control is characterized in his comment: “I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day ...”

The fallout, however, indicates the damage is much more pervasive. Even within his own party, his words have alienated fellow Republicans, fractured unity and eroded confidence.

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