Defiant Senate candidate Todd Akin said in a pair of radio appearances Tuesday that he will not drop out of his race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, promising to “rush to the gunfire” rather than away from it, following his controversial remarks about rape and abortion.
Despite urgings from much of the Republican Party hierarchy to drop his candidacy before a deadline this evening, Akin told radio hosts Mike Huckabee and Dana Loesch that he still believes he can beat McCaskill.
Akin, 65, portrayed himself as a man of principle, unwilling to give up his fight just because of comments that he portrayed as a minor misstep. “One word, one sentence, [on] one day out of place and all of a sudden the entire establishment turns on you,” Akin told Loesch, whose syndicated show is broadcast from KFTK-FM in St. Louis.
The veteran lawmaker’s tone was more combative than in a campaign ad that his office posted online earlier in the day, in which he not only acknowledged his “mistake” but asked for forgiveness.
Akin had said in a Sunday television talk show appearance that women who suffered “legitimate rape” very seldom got pregnant.
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
A furor arose, not only because the statement was factually incorrect but because it raised an issue — abortion rights — that many Republicans hoped to keep in the background, as they pounded President Obama on a dearth of jobs and a troubled economy.
Akin apologized Monday and said flatly his statement had been wrong, but in Tuesday’s interview with Loesch, Akin suggested he had only been misunderstood. The six-term congressman, who sits on the House committee on science, said he had merely misplaced the word “legitimate.” Akin said he had been “making the point that there were those who were making false claims, like those who basically created Roe vs. Wade.”
His reference was to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Akin told Loesch he felt he had been the victim of a rush to judgment by those who “haven’t estimated properly what it is we have to offer and what is at stake here, being able to stand up for the things that America was founded on.”
Akin said he won a three-way primary “because I didn’t pay so much attention to politics,” adding: “I paid attention to what this country is about. I paid attention to freedom, I paid attention to what is it going to take America back.”
“We are going to have some starch and some backbone and we can’t run from our shadows every time somebody says something about abortion or this or that,” Akin said.
Loesch said she had resisted the call by other conservatives that she call on the congressman to step out of the race. She told Akin, “I am worried for you,” and for the chances he could win, with Republicans pulling their support and financial assistance.
The powerful “super PAC” American Crossroads increased its pressure on Akin on Tuesday, releasing a statement that suggested his continued candidacy would “help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority.”
Akin noted that a poll showed him still leading the Democratic incumbent.
“Now it may go back and forth a little bit, but I don’t think this race is lost by any means,” he added. “I think people….they just ran for cover at the first sign of any gunfire and I think we need to rush to the gunfire. I think we need to take this battle forward and defy and to defend America, the way she has always been.”
To a final question from Loesch, Akin left no doubt he intended to stand his ground: “Let me be clear…we are not getting out of this race. I am in this race for the long haul and we are going to win it.”