By Susan Davis, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - Republican Rep. Todd Akin has one month to decide whether he has what it takes to go it alone in Missouri's Senate race after an almost complete abandonment by his party.
Missouri election law has a final Sept. 25 deadline to remove a candidate from the November ballot and allow state party committees to renominate a Republican to take on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The deadline gives Akin about four weeks to prove he can raise the money and maintain his standing in the polls for a general-election contest. Observers are skeptical that he can do either.
"If national groups are shunning him, he's not going to be raising money," said Jessica Taylor, an election analyst for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. "Social conservatives are his only savior in a way, and they might be asking, 'Is he a cause worth saving?' " she said.
Akin has not maintained a strong fundraising base in his six terms in the U.S. House. After his three-way primary for the Senate nomination, he had about $500,000 in the bank - a paltry sum to run a competitive statewide contest.
In an ad running on Missouri airwaves until Monday, Akin apologizes for his use of the word "legitimate" in reference to rape and asks for voters' forgiveness. He is also using social media in an effort to raise money online. An "I stand with Todd Akin" petition effort his campaign started is soliciting $3 donations and has drawn just over 5,000 signatures, according to the site that had raised only $30,000 as of late Wednesday.
His campaign has also been soliciting small donations on his Twitter feed in which he blames the media, the Washington elite and party bosses for trying to force him out of the race.
Akin has drawn a small group of defenders, predominantly among abortion opponents, since he sparked a controversy Sunday when he said women who are victims of "legitimate rape" are biologically capable of preventing pregnancies. Akin, a devout Christian, opposes abortion rights even in the case of rape.
The American Life League, a Catholic grass-roots group that opposes abortion rights, and the Missouri Republican Assembly, a conservative activist group that endorsed Akin in the primary, have come to his defense.
At least one Republican House colleague offered support. "What he said was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I'm bothered by this rush to pile on," said Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., according to a local Illinois report. "And I'm bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him."
Akin told former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's radio program Tuesday that in about one month he would know whether he had the support to continue, and that he was confident he would remain in the lead over McCaskill.
"This is still Missouri," said Taylor, noting the conservative lean of the state, particularly in southern Missouri. "Is he completely toast? Maybe not, we'll have to wait and see."