When Todd Akin first made his comment about “legitimate rape” in an interview with a local TV station in Missouri, it invited near unanimous condemnation. Every conservative from Michelle Malkin to Rush Limbaugh slammed the comment as scientifically illiterate, politically insane and an a priori disqualification for Akin. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads immediately began pulling money from the Akin race, as did the Senate Republican Campaign Committee (SRCC), and polls showed Akin ten points down relative to McCaskill, where he had previously enjoyed a double digit lead. In short, Akin looked doomed.

Now, however, local forces in Missouri look to be trying to breathe life into Akin’s ailing campaign. Yahoo News reports:

Missouri U.S. Senate candidateTodd Akin, unmoved by pressure to drop out of the race by a deadline on Tuesday, got a pledge of support from the state Republican Party and some Tea Party-linked conservatives considered donating to his campaign.

Akin has been urged to quit by fellow Republicans over his controversial remarks on rape. In a sign of defiance, Akin began a bus tour across the state on Tuesday to emphasize his decision to let pass the last opportunity to leave the race before the November 6 election.[...]

Akin assured more than 150 supporters at a rally in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon that he was in the race to stay, then departed on the bus tour. Donations to the campaign are picking up, his spokesman Ryan Hite said.

“Now that the deadline has passed, you will see a lot of conservative groups coming back in,” Hite said. “Missouri is a battleground state and its importance to taking back the Senate is too much to ignore.”

Mr. Hite’s prediction is proving accurate. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina issued a joint statement with former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania today via Facebook:

“If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stop President Obama’s liberal agenda, we must defeat Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Her support of President Obama’s job-killing, big-spending policies are sending our country into an economic abyss. And her passionate support of ObamaCare is ensuring healthcare costs go up while quality of care goes down. Simply put, we cannot afford six more years of Senator McCaskill.

“Todd Akin is a principled conservative who is committed to winning and fighting for freedom in the U.S. Senate. Todd will work to stop reckless spending, stop the out of control debt, repeal the government takeover of healthcare, support our military and defend life at every stage.”We support Todd Akin and hope freedom-loving Americans in Missouri and around the country will join us so we can save our country from fiscal collapse.”

DeMint and Santorum’s support is unsurprising, given both men’s socially conservative bona fides. It is an open question whether other Republicans will follow their lead. The RNC has already announced its continued unwillingness to back Akin, and given Karl Rove’s joke about “mysteriously murdering” Akin, it’s unlikely that American Crossroads will, either.

However, Akin may not need them. Some polls have shown him closing the gap with McCaskill, despite being excommunicated by the GOP, while a Rasmussen reports poll taken at the beginning of this month still shows him six points behind.