(WASHINGTON) — Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said today that he would not step aside despite calls for him to quit by two prominent Republican senators following his comments about “legitimate rape.”
Akin, a Republican, insisted on Mike Huckabee’s radio show today that he is staying in the race despite the furor over his comments that rape victims rarely get pregnant.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said Sunday.
Akin apologized for the remark today and told Huckabee that he was “not a quitter,” and still hoped to win the Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
“I’ve really made a couple of serious mistakes here that were just wrong, and I need to apologize for those,” he said.
“Let me be clear,” Akin added. “Rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act that’s committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words in the wrong way.”
When asked today to clarify what he meant by “legitimate rape,” Akin said, “I was talking about forcible rape and it was absolutely the wrong word.”
Akin’s initial statements sparked blowback from both parties.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, and Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Wisc., who are in competitive races in their own states, released scathing statements calling for Akin’s withdrawal from the Senate race.
Akin would have to withdraw from the race by Tuesday in order for the Republican Party to field another candidate before November elections.
“As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong… Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri,” Brown said.
“Todd Akin’s statements are reprehensible and inexcusable,” Johnson tweeted. “He should step aside today for the good of the nation.”
Mitt Romney this morning called Akin’s comments “inexcusable” and “wrong,” but stopped short of calling for his resignation. A senior official in the Romney campaign said the candidate would not call on Akin to resign.
Shortly after Huckabee’s interview, President Obama took the podium at a White House press briefing and called Akin’s views “offensive.”
“Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what type of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn’t’ make sense to me.”
Obama said that Akin’s comments demonstrated why “we shouldn’t have politicians, most of whom are men, making decisions” about women’s health.
He declined to comment specifically on Akin. “He was nominated by the Republicans of Missouri and I’ll let them sort that out,” Obama said.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards denounced Akin’s comment and it was an “egregious example” of legislators “making policy on women’s health without understanding it.”
The comments were quickly seized on by Democrats who tried to link Akin to the presumptive Republican presidential ticket, putting Romney and Paul Ryan on the defensive.
“As a woman I’m really concerned that Paul Ryan doesn’t understand that rape is rape,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., said this morning on CBS, accusing Ryan and Akin of teaming up last year to pass legislation that would redefine rape.
“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., the Missouri incumbent who is fighting for her reelection said in a statement. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Eric Bradner, Dana Bash and MJ Lee, CNN
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN