Akin vows to stay in Senate race after controversial comments
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Akin vows to stay in Senate race after controversial comments

Date: August 24, 2012
By: Jordan Shapiro
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin resisted calls from his fellow Republicans to step aside in the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill after controversial comments on rape and abortion. 

Several top Republicans including Sen. Roy Blunt and former Sens. Kit Bond, John Ashcroft, Jim Talent and John Danforth called on Akin to withdraw from the race after saying a women's body can prevent pregnancy in a "legitimate rape" during a television interview with KTVI in St. Louis.

But Akin has vowed to stay in the race and resist the calls to drop out from what he dubbed the "liberal elite" and "party bosses."

"Just because somebody makes a mistake doesn’t make them useless. We need a conservative in the United States Senate, and I am running to replace Claire McCaskill and get our country back on track," Akin said in a statement on Monday, Aug. 20.

Akin had until Tuesday, Aug. 21, to withdraw from the race without penalty. He still can exit the race by Sept. 25, but it would require a court order and Akin would have to pay to reprint the ballots.

Should Akin withdraw from the race the Republican state committee would have two weeks to nominate a replacement to challenge McCaskill.

While national Republicans ranging from presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Akin to leave the race, his opponent encouraged him to stay. 

McCaskill almost immediately criticized Akin's comments, but stopped short of calling him to leave the U.S. Senate contest.

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," she said in a statement.

In addition to public outcries from his fellow Republicans, Akin is also facing financial implications for his comments. Crossroads GPS - a national conservative group who had been running ads in Missouri against McCaskill - announced they were pulling their funding from the state. The Republican National Senatorial Committee also said they would not be spending money to help Akin.

Without help from national party donors, Akin has turned to grassroots fundraising soliciting $3 donations over Twitter. On Thursday, Aug. 23, Akin's campaign claimed to have raised $100,000 since the beginning of this week.

Since his comments, Akin is also struggling in the polls. A poll taken on Wednesday Aug. 22, by Rasmussen had McCaskill winning the race by 10 percent. The same poll also showed President Barack Obama beating Romney in Missouri.

Akin's office and family have become the target of threats since the controversy began this week. Akin's district director Steve Taylor confirmed the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating threats agaisnt the congressman and his family and staff.

"The office of Congressman Akin has received threats of rape and his offical staff, family and the Congressman himself along with suggestions that individuals should die," Taylor said.

Akin defeated his main Republican rivals, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman, in the August Primary election. McCaskill has been viewed by political analysts as one of the most vulnerable senators in the country seeking reelection.

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