His words about "legitimate rape" are stirring controversy, emotion and a political firestorm for Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, a conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
In interviews and on Twitter, Akin vowed to stay in the race, saying he made a mistake that Missouri voters will understand.
"I made a couple of mistakes here that were just wrong," he said during one of several interviews Monday. "I need to apologize for this."
He also added he needed to "make right" his statements.
President Barack Obama held an unexpected news briefing Monday afternoon and he strongly condemned Akin's remarks. He said Akin's comments were "way out there."
"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape," Obama said. "The idea we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape doesn't make sense to Americans and doesn't make sense to me. The comments underscore why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, most of them men, making health decisions on behalf of women."
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has condemned Akin's remarks but said Monday that he wouldn't call on Akin to withdraw as his party's nominee to contest U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.
Some major Republican groups are pulling their advertising in support of Akin. Some believe winning the Missouri Senate seat is key to Republicans regaining control of the U.S. Senate, which is why many Republican leaders are calling on Akin to withdraw.
MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, congratulated McCaskill on winning re-election Sunday night as she appeared on his morning talk show.
Akin, a six-term congressman, was asked in an interview on St. Louis television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped. The interview aired Sunday and ignited a national controversy.
"From what I understand from doctors that's really rare," Akin said of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin has since released a statement saying he misspoke, but that is not stopping some strong reaction both online and from rape victims themselves.
"It was like I had been slapped," said one metro-area rape survivor, when she heard Akin's words. "I heard that comment and I just began to shake. I was fit to be tied. I was really incensed."
The woman's attack was 35 years ago, but she still lives with it every day.
"I was beaten and held at knife point," she said.
She argues that such a deeply personal experience should never enter the political realm.
"That is between that woman and her maker, not a man in Washington," she said.
The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault is seeing an increase of calls to the nonprofit's crisis hotline. The firestorm has brought back memories for some rape survivors.
McCaskill was quick to respond Sunday and continued condemning Akin on Monday. But she said the voters have spoken and selected Akin so it would be "radical" to have him pulled from the ballot.
"As a woman and a former prosecutor who handled hundreds of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep. Akin's comments about victims," McCaskill said.
Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not specify which points or comments.
"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said.
But it will take more than that for many who know the issue all too personally.
"Words are cheap. It would take a lot more for him to really show, it would take actions for that to be really meaningful," an area rape victim said.
Akin also said in the statement he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."
Akin's comments also brought a swift rebuke from Romney.
"Gov. Romney and Congressman [Paul] Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
Romney campaign officials have told Kansas City area Republican leaders not to comment publicly on the growing scandal.
On Aug. 7, Akin won the state's Republican U.S. Senate primary by a comfortable margin. During the primary, Akin enhanced his standing with TV ads in which former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee praised him as "a courageous conservative" and "a Bible-based Christian" who "supports traditional marriage" and "defends the unborn."
Akin, a former state lawmaker who first won election to the U.S. House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.
During an interview with Huckabee Monday afternoon, Akin said he would remain in the race. The deadline for Akin to withdraw from the ballot without requiring a court order and additional costs to the GOP is 5 p.m. Tuesday.
"The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I'm not a quitter," Akin said. "My belief is that we are going to take this thing forward. And by the grace of God, we're going to win this race."
Akin said no GOP leaders have asked him directly to step aside. He reiterated his plan to stay in the race in an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity.
Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, called Akin's remarks "flat-out astonishing" on Sunday.
"That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims ... That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women," she told AP Radio.
In a Tweet, Cindy McCcain, wife to former GOP presidential nominee John McCain, said, "Rape is rape Mr. Akin."
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, said Akin's remarks were inappropriate.
Akin was interviewed on KTVI's The Jaco Report and also talked about numerous campaign issues, such as voter ID laws, the economy and Medicare. KTVI said the interview was conducted earlier in the week.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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