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Akin defies GOP call to leave Senate race

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Rep. Todd Akin defied the nation's top Republicans yesterday to forge ahead with his besieged Senate campaign, declaring that GOP leaders were overreacting by abandoning him because of his comments that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape."

Akin pledged to carry on with his quest to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill. But his bid faced tall obstacles: a lack of money, a lack of party support and no assurance that his apologies would be enough to heal a self-inflicted political wound.

"I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day, and all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides, 'Well, Akin can't possibly win,' " he said on a national radio show hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "Well, I don't agree with that."

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney added firepower Tuesday to Republican demands that Akin withdraw. "As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong, and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," Romney said. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."

Romney was referring to a joint statement issued by Sen. Roy Blunt and all four of Missouri's living former Republican senators -- John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, Jim Talent and John Danforth -- saying "it serves the national interest" for Akin to step aside.

The conservative super PAC American Crossroads said in a statement that "Rep. Akin faces a simple choice: Will he help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority by staying in the race, or will he help Republicans defeat Barack Obama's most reliable ally in the Senate by getting out?"

But Akin predicted he would bounce back from the political crisis threatening his campaign and capture a seat that is pivotal to Republican hopes of regaining control of the Senate. "I'm in this race for the long haul, and we're going to win it," he told radio host Dana Loesch in St. Louis.

If he stays on the ballot, Akin will have to rebuild without any money from the national party and with new misgivings among rank-and-file Republican voters who just two weeks ago propelled him to a comfortable victory in a hotly contested three-way primary.

Earlier Tuesday, Akin posted an online video in which he apologized again for his remarks. Campaign spokesman Ryan Hite said the apology was intended to cover both the reference to "legitimate rape" and Akin's assertion that rape victims have a natural defense against pregnancy.

-- With AP

and The Washington Post

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