ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rep. W. Todd Akin renewed his vow to carry on with his embattled Senate campaign Tuesday, even as a key deadline loomed to withdraw from the race over his comments that women’s bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape.”
Mr. Akin, who has been frantically trying to salvage his once-promising bid against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, insisted the uproar surrounding his remarks was an overreaction to misspeaking “one word in one sentence on one day.”
For the second time in two days, Mr. Akin went on the radio show hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to say he planned to stay in the race, despite constant urging from prominent members of his own party to step aside.
“I guess my question is: Is there a matter of some justice here?” Mr. Akin asked. After his original statement, “all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides, ‘Well, Akin can’t possibly win.’ Well, I don’t agree with that.”
“I hadn’t done anything morally or ethically wrong, as sometimes people in politics do,” Mr. Akin said. “We do a lot of talking, and to get a word in the wrong place, still, that’s not a good thing to do, or to hurt anybody that way, it does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.”
Hours earlier, he posted a video online in which he apologized again.
But ominous signs were mounting against the six-term legislator from suburban St. Louis, most notably the apparent loss of millions of dollars in campaign advertising money.
The decision has some urgency. Missouri election law allows candidates to withdraw 11 weeks before Election Day. That means the deadline to exit the Nov. 6 election is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Otherwise, a court order would be needed to remove a name from the ballot.
The uproar began Sunday, when St. Louis television station KTVI aired an interview in which Mr. Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.
“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,” Mr. Akin said.
In the interviews with Mr. Huckabee and Sean Hannity on Monday, Mr. Akin acknowledged that rape can lead to conception.
“Rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act. It’s committed by violent predators,” Mr. Akin said. “I used the wrong words the wrong way.”
But the damage had been done. The comments drew a sharp rebuke from fellow Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his vice presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. Akin’s comments might “prevent him from effectively representing” the Republican Party. He called on Mr. Akin to “take time with his family” to consider whether he should continue in the Senate race.