Todd Akin will get the endorsement of Kit Bond, former Missouri governor and senator, on Friday, CBS News' Scott Conroy reports, even though in August Bond signed a letter with all the other living Republican former senators of Missouri calling on Akin to quit the race after his "legitimate rape" comments. Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, who in August said Akin wouldn't get support no matter what -- "He could be tied. We're not going to send him a penny" -- hinted his harsh feelings had mellowed, too. When asked if he'd prefer Akin over opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill, Priebus told CBS, "Well, absolutely… That's a given, and as chairman of the party, I have an obligation to make sure we win as many seats in the Senate as possible." The change of heart comes after the Republican former senator who organized the behind-the-scenes push to oust Akin, Roy Blunt, endorsed him Wednesday. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich backed him, too, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it would "continue to monitor this race closely."
It's not that surprising that Republicans are reconsidering their exile of Akin. But skeptics expected Akin's rehabilitation to happen much closer to the election. Gingrich predicted only Monday that "an avalanche of money" would come Akin's way in mid-October. That's what Northwest Missouri State University Richard Fulton predicted to the Associated Press in early September, and what Missouri Republican strategist Jason Klindt told Fox 4 in Kansas City two weeks ago. The reason for the accelerated rate of reconciliation has something to do with polls showing narrowing chances for Republicans to pick up the four seats they need for a Senate majority.