Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reince Priebus doesn't want Todd Akin anywhere near the RNC

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Reince Priebus rallies the troops in South Tampa.
  • Reince Priebus rallies the troops in South Tampa.
Remember when Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee, and how Ryan's radical budget plan dominated political news coverage?

That was so last week. Since Sunday, the chattering classes have focused almost exclusively on the little-known Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin, who last week became his state party's nominee for U.S. Senate. Akin's recent use of the phrase "legitimate rape" when talking about abortion and pregnancy propelled a furious reaction across the board, with a number of Republican officials calling on him to step down from his race against Democrat Claire McCaskill.

As of now, Akin will do no such thing. Tuesday, on Mike Huckabee's syndicated radio show, the besieged Republican announced he'll stay in the race, accusing his critics of "overreaction."

Today, two hours before Akin's 5 p.m. withdrawal deadline, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said he was disappointed to hear the news.

"Who knows? I'm hoping that he lets someone else run. He's got a few hours to get that done. I don't think it's over yet, but it's up to him. But if it was me, I would do the right thing and step aside and let someone else who has a better chance of running run."

Priebus spoke from a Romney headquarters office, located in a strip mall off of Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa.

When asked if Akin would be a drag on the Republicans going into the convention, especially if he came to Tampa, Priebus wouldn't hear of it.

"As far as I'm concerned he's not going to be here," he snapped.

If Akin had decided to withdraw today, Republicans could have quickly selected a replacement. If he decides to take himself out between now and Sept. 25, he will need a court-ordered petition to take his name off the ballot. After Sept. 25, his name will be locked into the ballot.

Priebus also announced mixed news for the Florida delegation, which was stripped of half its delegates going to the convention as a penalty for the Republican Party of Florida's violation of the RNC edict against conducting its presidential primary in January.

Florida won't get back the additional 49 of its original 99 delegates, but the national party will allow the 49 to be "honored guests." But Priebus removed more than 160 guest passes, and won't allow good seats on the Times Forum's floor.

"We did every possible penalty that we could," Priebus told reporters this afternoon. "At the end of the day though, those seats in the lower bowl are prime seats, and I'm not going to give up our prime lower-bowl seats..."

Before meeting with the press, Priebus spoke to nearly 100 Republican party volunteers and a host of GOP elected officials and candidates, such as Dana Young, Jeff Brandes and Rich Glorioso.

He spoke about his Greek heritage, which segued into explaining his unconventional first name.

"My mother is Greek, half of our family lives in Greece, so if you ever wonder how you get a name like Reince Priebus? It's what happens when a Greek and German get married," eliciting large laughs from the audience.

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