Akin Says He Will Press on with Senate Race

Romney calls for him to step aside

Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin said he will press on with his U.S. Senate campaign, even as pressure grew from within his party to withdraw in the wake of his comments about "legitimate rape."

"I want to make one thing absolutely clear: we are going to continue with this race," Akin told Mike Huckabee, host of The Huckabee Report, ahead of Tuesday's afternoon deadline.

Akin added that his stand would "strengthen our country," and "strengthen the Republican Party," The Associated Press reported.

Per Missouri election law, if Akin did not withdraw from the race by 5 p.m., CT, he would need to go to court to get his name removed from the ballot. 

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Not long after Akin's announcement, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romeny called for him to reconsider.

"As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," said Romney in a statement. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."

Romney was just the most recent conservative to line up Tuesday in calling for Akin to leave the race against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. They included Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt issued a joint statement together with four former U.S. senators from the state calling Akin’s rape comments “totally unacceptable.”

"We do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race,” they said. “The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside."

Among the other voices from across the world of conservative politics calling for Akin's withdrawal were including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, columnists Charles Krauthammer and Ann Coulter, and radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levine, Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt.

Earlier Tuesday, Akin asked for forgiveness in a new ad released amid the campaign by his own party to get him out of the race.

"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize,” Rep. Akin said in a the ad released to Politico. “As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy.”

Akin went on to say that, “the truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."

Akin earlier apologized in several media appearances Monday for having suggested over the weekend that in cases of "legitimate rape" women could prevent pregnancy.

After being asked Sunday about his views on abortion in the case of rape, Akin said in an interview with St. Louis TV station KTVI that, "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare."

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"If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

Amid outcry over the remarks, Akin told Huckabee on Monday that he used “the wrong words in the wrong way.”

"I made that statement in error, rape is never legitimate,” he said. Still, he said he was “not a quitter” and vowed to stay in the race.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled $5 million in advertising for his race, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Akin to "step aside," and conservative radio and television hosts echoed Priebus' pleas on the airwaves and the Internet.

Mitt Romney called the comments “insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong.”

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The Tea Party Express political action committee called for Akin to leave the race over his “frequent 'Bidenisms.'" 

Other prominent Republicans calling for Akin's exit included Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the party’s chief Senate strategist, The Washington Post reported.

President Obama also pounced on the remarks.

"The views expressed were offensive," he said. "Rape is rape."

Akin, who had been leading his Democratic challenger in the polls, was counted on among Republicans to help overturn a 53-47 Democratic majority in the Senate.

"There's so much at stake, and I'm reading an email from a friend of mine right now, 'this is bigger than one person, this is going to set us back,'" Hannity told Akin on his show.

Akin later faced a barrage of insults from CNN host Piers Morgan for failing to appear for a pre-scheduled interview.

Akin was initially asked to appear on the program after Sen. McCaskill canceled her appearance. Rep. Jan Schakowsky filled the void by calling Akin and Paul Ryan "two peas in a pod" for endorsing "the same legislation that would limit women's rights to access to contraception, that would make even rape and incest not reasons for having an abortion."

Producers showed footage of an empty chair and Morgan said Akin would be a "gutless twerp" if he refused a renewed invitation to appear on the show.

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