Embattled Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin—who faced calls to drop out of the race after his infamous "legitimate rape" remark—is no longer in the Republican Party's doghouse.
Now that he's in the campaign to stay, the GOP is inching towards supporting him. In fact, he picked up two major endorsements on Wednesday: former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Tea Party star Senator Jim DeMint.
In addition, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had previously pulled millions of dollars in planned advertising for the candidate, released a statement saying, "As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November."
Tuesday was the last day Akin could be removed from the November ballot. He refused, despite the calls from several in the GOP establishment—including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney—for Akin to pull the plug on his campaign.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum told MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday that Republicans are changing their tune because Republicans' prospects of controlling the Senate are fading, and they need every seat they can to increase their chances. In addition, the GOP is facing increasing pressure from Tea Party supporters like Santorum, DeMint and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who all back Akin.
"This is a really hard decision politically and practically for Republicans to make," said Shrum. "First, it's going to cost a lot of money if [the NRSC] goes back in. They cancelled all the air time. To buy the spots now would cost five to six times more money."
Shrum added that it's still not politically beneficial for Republicans be associated with Akin. "They already have a huge gender gap," he said.
Republican strategist John Feehery acknowledged that Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has an edge on Akin, but added, "Akin's got a good shot at winning; otherwise we wouldn't care this much." He also defended the NRSC's statement supporting Akin.
"They wanted to put in the best candidate they could," Feehery said. "It was not Akin at the time. They wish they would have gotten him out of there and someone else in. But now they got him and they gotta stick with him."