UPDATED at 12:50 p.m. with Gingrich's speech to Akin supporters.
KIRKWOOD • Newt Gingrich today predicted that national Republican leaders, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, will reverse their blackball treatment of Todd Akin and open the financial spigots once they "adjust to (the) reality" that he's staying in Missouri's U.S. Senate race.
"I believe by mid-October all of them will be in," Gingrich told a crowd of about 50 supporters who gathered at the Kirkwood Amtrak station this morning in advance of Gingrich's attendance at a fundraiser for Akin, the Republican Senate nominee.
Gingrich is among the few national Republicans to stand by Akin since Akin's remarks last month on "legitimate rape" and pregnancy turned him into a pariah within his own party. GOP leaders have said the controversial remarks make it virtually impossible for Akin to win in his challenge of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and they have sought to drive him from the ballot in time to name a replacement for the Nov. 6 election.
Those leaders have withdrawn support and funding, including millions of dollars that had been expected to flow from GOP-affiliated "superPACs" for the hotly contested race.
Tuesday is the deadline for Akin to seek removal from the ballot, something he reiterated today that he has no intention of doing.
Once that door is closed, Gingrich predicted, the party leaders' vows of continued ostricization will disappear — especially after the "avalanche of money" that most assume will be coming McCaskill's way from Democratic sources.
Unseating McCaskill has long been viewed as linchpin in the GOP's Senate takeover strategy, so the Akin controversy has national ramifications.
"This is a winnable race," Gingrich said. "I don't see how any national Republicans . . . have a choice after tomorrow."
Gingrich, the former House speaker and presidential candidate, said he came to Missouri to support Akin on the principle that national party leaders shouldn't dictate to Missouri Republicans who their candidate should be. In his speech to supporters, Gingrich compared Akin to fellow Missourian Harry Truman, who Gingrich noted also bucked his own (Democratic) party and beat pollsters' expectations.
The $500-a-plate luncheon, at which Gingrich also is expected to speak, is underway at Trattoria Branica. Pro-Democratic picketers are marching near the restaurant entrance.