U.S. Rep. Todd Akin reiterated Friday that he will not get out of the U.S. Senate race, saying he is in it to win in November.
During a news conference in St. Louis County, he pivoted to attack his Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. He said they represent two different Americas and the race is about that.
The news conference came as the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate faces mounting pressure to withdraw from the race after his recent comments about women and "legitimate rape." Party leaders have said Akin stands no chance against McCaskill and the seat is crucial to the Republicans wresting control of the Senate from Democrats.
Akin said Republicans may be negotiating to get him out of the race, but those talks "don't include me." He said he must follow his own heart and he is about principles, not politics.
"Apparently there are some people who are having trouble understanding our message," he said Friday. "I would like to be clear on that today. That we are going to be here through the November election. We are going to be here to win."
During a campaign appearance in Parkville Friday, McCaskill tried to avoid talking about the controversy over Akin's rape comments, but his record of voting against veterans programs.
"I think all of this speculation doesn't do much for Missourians. I want to focus on Missourians and their pain," McCaskill said.
However, she is using the outcry to raise campaign funds. Akin is also doing so.
"This is the system I'm saddled with. I have to raise money from as many sources as possible to try to stem the unprecedented flow of outside money into Missouri," she said.
Akin, a six-term congressman, was asked last week in an interview by a St. Louis journalist 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."
The comments have become the butt of jokes from comedians like David Letterman and Jay Leno. The comments have also drawn scorn and the ire of both Republicans and Democrats.
Akin later apologized, saying he was referring to "forcible rape" and acknowledged that women "do become pregnant" during such instances.
He has been running ads in Missouri apologizing for his words.
On Friday, Akin said he had traveled the state and Republicans had voted him earlier this month as their nominee. He said he has never been a favorite of the Republican Party establishment.
"The voters made the decision. This is an election, not a selection," Akin said.
During Friday's news conference, he declined to discuss the investigations into death threats and threats of violence against his staff, family and himself. He did criticize McCaskill as a tax-and-spend liberal.
"I believe that may be American has gotten into trouble because we paid too much attention to politics and not enough attention to principle," he said.
He said he would continue to campaign as he has in the past.
While Akin did not apologize again Friday for his "legitimate rape" remarks, his apology ad is airing on many television stations including KCTV5.
"Rape is an evil act; I used the wrong words in the wrong way. And for that, I apologize," he said in the ad that came out Tuesday. "As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators, have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault, and I pray for them. Fact is, rape could lead to pregnancy; 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."
McCaskill earlier this week said that Akin should be given the benefit of the doubt regarding his request for forgiveness. She said Akin was elected by Republican primary voters to be their party's standard bearer.
"I don't have a vote," she said. "The people have a vote, and the people have voted."
Jeff Roe, who has helped managed previous campaigns for Republican Sarah Steelman, said Akin is fighting both Democrats and Republicans. He said where Akin stands after the national political conventions will determine whether he will get off the battle or not by the end-of-September deadline.
"I don't think you can measure these scandals until a week or two later. I just think there's too much in the air," said Roe, who heads up Kansas City-based Axiom Strategies, a political consulting firm. "Voters will make a decision on whether he is too out of the mainstream to be elected, and if that is more important than Claire McCaskill's support for President Obama."
If Akin doesn't rebound, then he will exit, Roe said.
"I believe that if he's in bad shape then I think he gets out of the race," Roe said, adding that the debate over abortion distracts from jobs and the economy.
"If those are the issues of the day, then Republicans will win," he said. "If we're still having this complicated, confusing argument about social issues, then that's a bad place for us to be."
Steelman, who came in third on Aug. 7 in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, is among those in line to replace Akin if he gets off the ballot.
Refresh this page for updates on this developing story.
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