Todd Akin Defies Top Republicans, Refuses to Quit
(WASHINGTON) -- In a last ditch effort, Mitt Romney asked Rep. Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race today because of Akin's controversial comments about rape.
Romney weighed in after Akin rebuffed pressure from the Republican's vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan to consider quitting the race. Romney and Ryan were the latest in a series of top Republicans, including five current and former Missouri senators, who urged Akin to withdraw.
"Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside," Romney said in a statement. "I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race." Romney had earlier condemned Akin's comments, but a top Romney aide had told ABC News Monday that the presidential candidate did not intend to ask Akin to leave the race.
So far, Akin has refused fellow Republicans' requests that he get off the ballot, vowing to fight on into the fall.
"Let me make it absolutely clear," Akin said on Mike Huckabee's radio show. "We're going to continue with this race for the U.S. Senate."
Akin had until 6 p.m. ET today to withdraw, but showed no signs of budging.
Ryan called Akin Monday and the two spoke for about five minutes, a Republican source familiar with the call told ABC News.
"He didn't ask him to get out," the source said. "He said, basically, 'You need to reflect on this and think about what is best for you, your family and things you believe in.'"
Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck would not comment on the call.
"If Ryan was sent to convince him to get out of the race, he failed," the source said.
Instead, Akin posted an online video seeking "forgiveness" for saying that women rarely get pregnant from what he called "legitimate rape."
"By taking this stand, this is going to strengthen our country," he told Huckabee, calling in to the show for the second straight day. "It will strengthen the Republican Party."
High-ranking GOP officials fear Akin's inflammatory words have sunk his chances of winning the Missouri race and may also scuttle Republicans' hopes of taking control of the Senate.
Earlier today, Akin gained an unlikely ally in the form of Democratic rival Sen. Claire McCaskill. McCaskill, who is trailing Akin in the polls, said that Republican leaders should not be trying to overturn the results of the Republican primary that made Akin their candidate.
The National Republican Senate Committee questioned McCaskill's motives.
"It should not be lost on anyone that some of the only voices not calling for Congressman Akin to do the right thing and step aside are Claire McCaskill and the leaders of the pro-abortion movement," they said in a statement. "Senator McCaskill knows that the only way she wins re-election is if Todd Akin is her opponent in November."
Among the big-name Republicans asking Akin to quit are his would-be colleagues, including Missouri's junior senator Roy Blunt, who issued a joint statement together with former Missouri U.S. senators John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, John Danforth, and Jim Talent. "The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside," they wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Maine's Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Richard Burr of North Carolina have all joined the chorus.
McConnell called Akin's initial remarks a "deeply offensive error at a time when his candidacy carries great consequence for the future of our country... To continue serving his country in the honorable way he has served throughout his career, it is time for Congressman Akin to step aside."
On Monday, Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Texas's John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senate Committee, urged Akin to step aside. Additional pressure came from Karl Rove's powerful Crossroads GPS Super PAC which said it will pull all of its money out of Missouri if Akin stays in and the Tea Party Express which released a statement calling for Akin to "step down."
Akin tried to salvage his candidacy today by releasing a video asking voters for "forgiveness."
"Rape is an evil act" and "the mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold," Akin tells voters in the video.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," the campaign said yesterday, before dialing up the rhetoric.
Earlier today, the Republican National Convention approved a plank in their platform advocating for the passage of the "Human Life Amendment," which would ban abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest.
It employs the same language that was used in the party platform in 2004 and 2008.
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