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Congressman Todd Akin stays in Senate race despite gaffe, GOP pressure

August 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin released a new ad Tuesday apologizing for his comments on rape, but he's refusing to drop out of his Senate race amid mounting pressure from his own party to withdraw.

The deadline for the Missouri Senate candidate to withdraw has passed, and Congressman Todd Akin has made it official: He is staying in the race. His decision comes after more intense pressure from fellow Republicans to quit.

Even GOP presidential Mitt Romney said in a statement that he thinks Akin should exit the Senate race. But at the end of the day Akin has chosen to continue without the support of his own party.

Akin released a 30-second ad Tuesday asking for voter support: "The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness," says Akin in the ad.

In a radio interview hours later Akin once again affirmed he is still in the race. "We are going to continue with this race for the U.S. Senate," he said.

The calls for Akin to drop out have been growing since Sunday, when he made a controversial comment about rape and pregnancy: "It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The six-term congressman insisted he misspoke, meaning to say "forcible rape."

The deadline for Akin to withdraw from the race was at 3 p.m. Pacific Time, but he ignored that ticking clock. Now it would take a court order to get his name removed from the ballot.

The Missouri Senate race has long been targeted by the GOP as crucial to regaining control of the Senate. Akin's Democratic opponent, incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill, says while she disagrees with Akin's statement, "I think what's startling to me is that these party bigwigs are coming down on him."

"The fact Claire McCaskill wants him to stay in the race speaks volumes," said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. "If he looks at the bigger picture, he will do what's best and he'll step aside."

Akin's comments drew more sharp criticism Tuesday from the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who called Akin's apology "insufficient," and from five of Missouri's current and former Republican senators, who also urged the congressman to step aside.

Monday, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled $5 million in advertising planned for the Missouri Senate race.

But Tuesday a "flash poll" shows Akin continues to lead his opponent McCaskill by a point, and leads with independent voters.

Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono will be covering the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., beginning Sunday, Aug. 26.


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