Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in recent days quietly assumed a lead role in seeking a solution in which Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., would step down as the Republican challenger to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., but has had no better success than national Republicans, GOP sources said.
Since Akin's controversial comments on rape Sunday, he has had limited direct contact with national Republican leaders even as they publicly urged him to quit the race. Blunt, who is the sitting Republican senator from the state, a member of Senate Republican leadership and who worked with the Romney campaign to win congressional endorsements for the candidate, is an obvious choice to reach out to Akin.
"He is in a unique position to provide sound advice on the political atmosphere in the state," said one senior Senate Republican staffer.
A GOP aide said that Blunt "has had several conversations with Akin, most recently Tuesday morning," and that Blunt "encouraged Akin to get out of the race." Blunt has also been in touch with senior Republicans at the state and national level since controversy over Akin's remarks began, the aide said.
Blunt's last conversation with Akin came before Akin announced, in what he said was his final decision, that he will remain in the race. Later in the day, Blunt issued a statement with former Missouri Republican senators John Ashcroft, John Danforth and Kit Bond calling on Akin to step aside. Blunt organized that joint statement, GOP aides said.
The Senate aide and sources close to former Missouri Republican Party Chair Ann Wagner, who is running to replace Akin in the House, denied speculation that Blunt sought to broker a deal in which Wagner would replace Akin in the Senate race, opening the door for Akin to remain in the House.
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