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FOR REAL THIS TIME: After COB today, Todd Akin's name is more or less set in stone on the Missouri ballot and will remain there even in the event of his death. But what only a month ago appeared to turn into an unwinnable Senate race for Republicans, now looks likely to go down to the wire.
THE NUMBERS: The latest polling from the Show Me State is about two weeks old, so there is no clear picture of the state of the race. But the last two major surveys (taken the last week of August and the second week of September, respectively) show Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill with less-than-comfortable leads of 1 percent and 6 percent respectively.
AND THAT WAS BEFORE: A handful of GOP heavyweights jumped back aboard the Akin train. Mike Huckabee is sticking with Akin. Phyllis Schlafly is doing a bus tour for him. The Jim DeMint-led Senate Conservatives Fund is asking support from its donors to help Akin. And yesterday, Newt Gingrich went to Missouri to headline a fund-raiser for the Senate hopeful. "What’s the moral case for not backing the Republican nominee picked by the people of Missouri?" Gingrich said at the $500-a-plate event.
A DEMOCRATIC SLOW-PLAY?: Akin is "seriously kidding himself" if he thinks the big-money outside groups that abandoned him this summer will reverse course, Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy told Reuters: "Opening national coffers to Akin would make other Republican candidates vulnerable to Democratic attempts to tie them to Akin’s remarks, Duffy said. 'It’s bigger than Akin,' she said. 'They can’t go rescue Akin at the expense of other candidates.' Duffy said McCaskill may be waiting until after today’s deadline to begin her sharpest attacks against Akin."
WAY-BACK MACHINE: Slate's Will Saletan takes a look at Gingrich's decision to back Akin now when he didn't apply the same don't-mess-with-GOP-primary-voters logic to a House campaign by ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke in the early 1990s: "Akin never wore a hood, and 2012 is a long way from 1991. You can argue that the two cases are different. But Gingrich, Huckabee, DeMint, and other Republicans haven’t made that case. They haven’t explained why, if racial prejudice disqualifies a popularly chosen candidate from national Republican support, rape skepticism doesn’t. Until they do, the simplest explanation is that a history of second-guessing women about rape doesn’t bother these Republicans morally—or at least politically—the way that a history of racism does." Read the full thing here.
NOT-SO-FAR-BACK MACHINE: Just last week, Slate's Jeremy Stahl spotted conservatives slowly rejoining Akin's campaign as it became clear he was staying in the race: "The calls from the conservative pundit class for Akin to drop out have always been incredibly cynical, with many admitting that they wanted Akin out because of fear he would cost the party a seat that it would otherwise win, and potentially the Senate, and not because of any objection to what he said. None have seemed more calculated—while at the same time pretending to be principled—than Dana Loesch." Read the full thing here.
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ON THE GROUND IN BOSTON: The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty: "The most closely watched Senate race in the country has taken a sharp turn off the high road. As Sen. Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren enter the final phase of their exceedingly tight race, each is seeking to undermine the other on the very traits that had been considered their greatest political strengths: his independence and her character."
AS IF ON CUE: A pair of Brown staffers were recorded doing the "tomahawk chop" along with a smattering of other "war whoops" at a political rally in Massachusetts this past weekend in an apparent attempt to mock Warren's unproven claim that she is of Native American heritage.
WHO'S SORRY NOW? Asked about the video by the Boston Globe today, Brown said he had not yet seen it but that it is "not something I condone." While the senator said he plans to tell his staff "never to do that again," he nonetheless said that his campaign isn't the one that should be saying its sorry. "The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody—a Native American—and using that for an advantage, a tactical advantage,” he said. (Warren has denied accusations that she gained an advantage from identifying as part Cherokee, fwiw.)
SCOTUS WATCHING: Emily Bazelon is looking forward to three cases in the first half of October. Here they are, in the order they’ll be argued: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, Monday, Oct. 1; Ryan v. Gonzales and Tibbals v. Carter, Tuesday, Oct. 9; Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Wednesday, Oct. 10. Full details here.
CHECKING THE TRAPS—
NYT: "President Obama challenged the Arab world to use its newfound embrace of democracy to ensure protection for freedom of religion and speech and even life, using the last address of his first term to the General Assembly on Tuesday to call for a renewed focus on the 'painstaking work of reform.'"
AP: "It's a campaign believed to be unprecedented in its size and aggressiveness: New York City is handing out the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 at more than 50 public high schools, sometimes even before they have had sex."
Reuters: "China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbors."
WSJ: "A growing number of companies are producing alternative measures of their top executives' pay, seeking to persuade investors that compensation isn't as high as the government's yardstick implies."
SLATE QUICK HITS—
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