Rep. Todd Akin's staunchest defender may turn out to be his chief political rival.
As the nation's top Republicans urged Akin this week to abandon his Senate race, one of the few politicians content to see him stay was the Democratic incumbent he's trying to unseat.
Experts agree that the congressman's missteps give Claire McCaskill her best chance to win another term.
McCaskill has been clearly uncomfortable discussing Akin's plight publicly, but she has been steadfast in her insistence that he should not be forced out.
Until about a week ago, Akin was the odds-on favorite to win McCaskill's seat, which is key to GOP ambitions to gain control of the Senate. Because of her close ties to President Barack Obama in an increasingly conservative state, she is considered vulnerable.