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The Brief: Sept. 12, 2012

Weeks after igniting a political firestorm, Todd Akin still hasn't wooed many Republicans back to his side — least of all the one he could use the most: John Cornyn.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, at the state Republican convention in 2010.

The Big Conversation:

Weeks after igniting a political firestorm, Todd Akin still hasn't wooed many Republicans back to his side — least of all the one he could use the most: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

In August, Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, strongly encouraged Akin, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, to withdraw from the race after he suggested in an interview that women's bodies reject pregnancy in instances of "legitimate rape." The senatorial committee suggested that it was ready to pull funding from Missouri if Akin stayed in the race.

Nearly a month later, with Akin still resisting calls to drop his bid, Cornyn hasn't budged.

"We’re done," Cornyn told Politico when asked whether the committee would help Akin if he stayed in the race until November. He added: "As far as I’m concerned, that’s up to the people of Missouri. I’ve done everything I know how to do."

The committee, according to Politico, has already shifted $5 million in resources originally meant for Missouri to states like Maine and Connecticut, where Republicans see new opportunities. Super PACs once ready to hammer away at Akin's Democratic opponent, incumbent Claire McCaskill, have also withdrawn from the state.

But Republicans' problems in Missouri underscore the difficulty Cornyn faces as he seeks to recapture the Senate for the GOP. As The New York Times wrote on Monday, "Both parties have seen new opportunities and new challenges, but the net result is that Democrats appear to be in less danger of losing the Senate, while Republicans have a more difficult path to gaining the majority."

And though polling remains fluid two months out from Election Day, new numbers out this week spelled potential trouble for Republicans, with the Democratic candidate in Florida appearing to pull ahead and Arizona, once thought to be safely Republican, suddenly looking competitive.

Culled:

  • The federal government has approved some of the first applications it received from illegal immigrants seeking deportation deferrals under the Obama administration's new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to The Associated Press. The Department of Homeland Security wouldn't say how many deferrals were granted but that the first recipients — of the 72,000 young immigrants who have applied so far — would be notified this week. The New York Times notes that Texas was second in the number of applications filed, behind California.
  • Karl Rove on Tuesday disputed passages in a new book by a former Susan G. Komen for the Cure official alleging that he told the charity to back off its controversial decision earlier this year to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. As Politico reports, the book, by former Komen vice president Karen Handel, claims that Komen founder and chief executive Nancy Brinker said Rove had advised her to rethink the group's decision. Rove's chief of staff called the book "not accurate."
  • The newly approved 85 mph speed limit for a stretch of toll road in Central Texas has attracted international attention. And as the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, it has also sparked some controversy: from one group of critics calling the speed limit reckless, and from another speculating that nearby roads are being given low speed limits to increase revenue on the toll road.

"I've got to get the message out of how extreme his position is. I am the mainstream candidate." — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler on Republican opponent Ted Cruz, quoted in the San Angelo Standard-Times

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