Rep. Todd Akin confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he’s staying in the race for the Senate from Missouri, and appeared to tailor his pitch to conservative abortion foes.
"We are going to continue with this race for the United States Senate," the embattled lawmaker told Mike Huckabee in a radio interview just hours before the 5pm deadline for Republicans to be able to easily replace him on the ballot.
Since Akin said on Sunday that it’s rare for women to get pregnant via “legitimate rape,” igniting a firestorm of criticism, the Republican Party has tried to force him from the race, saying it would cut off money and support. Though he had told Sean Hannity Monday he planned on staying in, many political observers expected him to think again.
“I believe, as I took a look at this race, that what we’re doing here is standing on a principle about what America is,” Akin said. “We’re missing the heart of what makes America. And a deep respect for life—that’s underlying everything.”
He added: “It’s deeply ingrained that a respect for human beings and a respect for life is just part of our culture.”
Though he apologized again for his comments Sunday, Akin also appeared to downplay them. “I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day,” he said. “It does seem like a little bit of an over-reaction.”
Akin noted a new poll showing him maintaining a narrow lead over his Democratic opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill. And he shrugged off the loss of support from the GOP, saying he’s getting backing from ordinary Americans receptive to his pro-life message.
“What we’re seeing right now is a tremendous outpouring of support from a whole lot of regular small people,” Akin said. “There is an active and engaged and committed grassroots movement to stand up for what America is about. We believe that by taking this stand, this is going to strengthen this country.”
In a separate interview afterwards with Tea Party activist Dana Loesch, Akin said his misstep was one of word choice. "Misplacing the word legitimate ... that was the problem," he said, adding that he meant to refer to what he called "false rapes."