Todd Akin kept his promise Tuesday evening, allowing a 5 p.m. (CT) deadline to drop out of the race come and go. While that will likely mean an end to the will-he-or-won't-he narrative of the past two days, the media spotlight remains very much on the Missouri Senate hopeful, with news outlets across the Web devoting large portions of their front pages to coverage of his campaign and how it will impact his fellow Republicans currently running for office.
First, a reminder on exactly where things stand with Missouri campaign law: The next deadline for Akin's withdrawal is Sept. 25, before which he could still remove himself from the ballot by petitioning the court. If he goes that route, however, many believe his bid would be challenged by the Missouri secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, something that could force Republicans to relive this week's rough news cycle that much closer to the election. After the deadline passes, however, Akin's name is more or less set in stone, and would remain on the ballot even in the event of his death.
All right, back to this morning's (Web) front pages.
The New York Times gives Akin's faith and the larger abortion debate twin biling with "A Politician Whose Faith Is Central to His Persistence" and "Akin Controversy Stirs Up Abortion Issue in Campaign." We'll assume that if you've been paying even the smallest amount of attention this week, you've got a good handle on that second topic, but the first one is definitely worth a read. Here's a snippet:
Rick Mathes, of the Mission Gate Prison Ministry, where Mr. Akin serves on the advisory board, said that Mr. Akin’s beliefs drive his political approaches and work. “He wouldn’t violate his beliefs if you shot him,” said Mr. Mathes, who added that he and Mr. Akin, who participates in Bible studies and prayer groups, were “far to the right” of people like Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Akin, said Mr. Mathes, believed that “America needs to be returned to its roots, its Judeo-Christian roots.”
It's largely the same story over at the Washington Post, where they've got two prominently-featured homepagers: "Akin’s defiance heightens tension within the GOP" and "Abortion comments give Democrats a political window." Politico, as it likes to do, spins the story forward with "Akin's looming campaign of isolation":
Akin is facing far more resistance from party leaders and like-minded allies than many other candidates who have found themselves dogged by controversy. He’s up against an almost unthinkable set of obstacles after resisting a furious GOP campaign to get him to drop out by a Tuesday deadline.
His party’s presidential candidate wants him to quit. Well-financed Republican outside groups say they won’t spend a dime on him. And virtually every Republican in the Senate, from the powerful leader on down to lowly rank-and-file members, wants a new candidate to take on the vulnerable Democratic incumbent.
Is there any path to victory for the 65-year-old congressman, who before his weekend fiasco was the favorite in a Republican-leaning state?
The Missouri congressman's refusal to bow to the demands of the GOP establishment is also getting less prominent front-page mentions on the major network news website and the likes of CNN and Fox News. The most notable absence of coverage comes from the Wall Street Journal, which unlike its fellow national papers, has Akin well below its online fold, and likewise left the story largely off the front page of its printed edition, with the exception of a small tease in its What's News box: "Akin refused to withdraw his candidacy for a Missouri Senate seat ahead of a Tuesday deadline, despite calls to step aside from Republican leaders and Romney. A5"