As first deadline looms, Akin resists calls to withdraw from Senate race

Here and Now

Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin has vowed to stay in the race for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat, despite his comments on Sunday where he said in cases of “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies have a way to “shut that down” and keep from becoming pregnant.

Doctors say that’s wrong, Democrats say the comments are indicative of where the Republican Party is heading and Republicans, a lot of them at least, are saying it’s time for Akin to bow out of the race in time for someone else to take his place.

Akin faces a 5 p.m. central time deadline Tuesday to decide whether he will withdraw and allow someone else to challenge Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in Missouri

On Monday, the Crossroads Super PAC and other national Republican groups pulled their funding from the state and on Tuesday a group of powerful Missouri Republicans, including former U.S. Senators Kit Bond, Jim Talent, John Ashcroft and John Danforth, all called on Akin to get out of the race.

But Akin has given no indication of stepping out of the race, in fact on Tuesday he released an ad apologizing, asking for forgiveness and vowing to campaign on. He called rape an evil act and acknowledges it can lead to pregnancy.

Akin went on Mike Huckabee’s radio show Tuesday, for the second time in two days, and vowed to stay in the race, calling the Republican pressure to drop out “a little bit of an overreaction.”

“I hadn’t done anything morally or ethically wrong, as sometimes people in politics do,” Akin said. “We do a lot of talking, and to get a word in the wrong place, still, that’s not a good thing to do, or to hurt anybody that way, it does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.”

Should Akin stay in past 5 p.m., a court order would be needed to get his name off the ballot.’

Kevin McDermott, a political writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said he has until Sept. 25 to have his name removed through that method.

“There is a deadline today, but it’s not the drop-dead deadline,” he said.

Democrats, McDermott said, are conflicted over Akin’s candidacy. On the one hand, they’d relish the chance of competing against a badly weakened candidate and, potentially, hanging onto a Senate seat that had seemed all but certain to flip parties.

“If he leaves the ballot, he’d presumably be replaced by someone who’s not quite as vocally conservative,” McDermott said. “One would think the Republican Party would put up somebody who is more mainstream.”

So far, the Missouri Right To Life coalition has backed Akin in his effort to stay in the race, but even a group as conservative as the Christian Defense Council has joined the chorus of calls for him to drop out of the race.

McDermott says Republicans are in a pinch, because they can’t repudiate Akin’s comments too loudly, for fear of alienating the extremely conservative members of their own party. And, indeed, he said, they seem to be calling on him to leave the race not because of his words, but because he seems to be unable to win.

“It’s more of a strategic criticism,” McDermott said.

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