By ALEXANDER BURNS |
8/25/12 10:04 AM EDT
My story on the homepage this morning, on the controversial, outside-the-Beltway Republican media firm at the center of the Todd Akin maelstrom:
Once again, a high-magnitude political earthquake has shaken the campaign for control of the U.S. Senate. And once again, the epicenter was a historic 19th century brick manse a few miles outside Columbus, Ohio.
That’s where Missouri Rep. Todd Akin arrived midday Monday in an urgent effort to rescue his bid against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The Republican congressman threw his campaign into a state of crisis last weekend when he told a local TV interviewer that he believed victims of rape rarely become pregnant.
A day later, Akin was at the offices of the Strategy Group for Media in a Delaware, Ohio, building known as the Gooding House. There, he spent Monday afternoon taping a television ad that offered a direct-to-camera apology to Missouri voters: “The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”It was a hurried attempt by Akin to avert a total collapse of his campaign. A week later, he has dug in and vowed to say on the ballot, even as national Republicans fume that he’s imperiling their chances of taking the Senate majority.
And they’re not just fuming at Akin. In private — for the most part — Republican strategists are also raging that Akin’s consultants have helped gird him against outside pressure to drop out.
Akin’s advisers reject that characterization and dispute reports suggesting that Akin stayed in the race at their urging. The top executives at the Strategy Group learned of Akin’s grievous misstep after disembarking from a cross-country flight Sunday afternoon, and realized the immediate task at hand was getting an apology on the air. Akin, they say, was determined to stay in the race upon his arrival in Ohio, where he used SGM’s production facilities to shoot an ad, edit it and send it to stations by Tuesday.
“We had to immediately protect his character, integrity and honor and we had to give him the opportunity to do that to the people of Missouri,” said Nick Everhart, the 32-year-old SGM president, who pointed out the firm has advised Akin since the start of his congressional career. “We’re working for a guy who we’ve worked with for this long, who we can’t just abandon.”
This is not the first time that SGM has been at the center of what national Republicans view as an electoral emergency. In 2010, the media company guided now-Sen. Rand Paul to his victory in a Republican primary — only to see Paul, several days later, criticize the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Paul ultimately won the race, but not before causing an excess of heartburn for Washington Republicans.
As national party leaders gnashed their teeth this week about the Missouri situation, calls flowed into the SGM offices from elected officials and operatives seeking to reach Akin and lean on his team.
Meanwhile, speaking anonymously to reporters, GOP strategists hurled a variety of accusations at the Ohio-based firm and Elsass, a colorful, hot-tempered, Bentley-owning, private jet-flying ad man who seems to have angered almost every Republican in Washington at one point or another in his career. Even in a business that’s known for vendor-on-vendor feuding, the intensity of Republican seething at Elsass & Co. has been on a different plane.
- Huckabee Says He and a ‘Quiet Army’ Back Akin (theatlanticwire.com)
- Poll shows Akin’s slide in Missouri Senate race (stltoday.com)
- Todd Akin Probably Isn’t Going Away After This New Apology Ad (theatlanticwire.com)
- McCaskill Opens Up Big Lead Over Todd Akin In Latest Poll (politicker.com)
- Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill polls 10 points ahead of Rep. Todd Akin in latest Rasmussen poll – @TheAtlanticWire (theatlanticwire.com)
- Rasmussen: Missouri Senate: McCaskill (D) 48%, Akin (R) 38% (riehlworldview.com)
- Todd Akin Drops 21% in the Polls: It’s Time to Negotiate a Way Out (bungalowbillscw.blogspot.com)
- Rasmussen poll: Claire McCaskill up by 10 over Todd Akin (secularnewsdaily.com)
- How Todd Akin Can Survive (esquire.com)
- Akin, Defiant, Announces He Will Stay In The Missouri Senate Race (mediaite.com)