(WOMENSENEWS)— Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) appears determined to remain in the Senate race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He appeared Tuesday on Mike Huckabee’s radio show — the second time in two days — making it “absolutely clear” that “We’re going to continue with this race for the U.S. Senate,” reported ABC News.
He also released a 30-second video Tuesday morning called “Forgiveness.”
“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize,” he said. “As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault, and I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”
Public outrage followed Akin’s Aug. 19 comments that in cases of “legitimate rape” women’s bodies can reject pregnancies.
National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the national party will not spend money to re-elect him, reported the Washington Post.
Prominent Republicans appear worried because, according to Missouri state law, he can easily step aside only until the 11th Tuesday before the election – that’s today, Aug. 21.
After that, he would need to petition a court to allow him to exit the race. But with both Democrats and the GOP hoping for a Senate majority after November, the outcome of this race – one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable, at least before Sunday — carries even more weight.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in the wake of the maelstrom shows Akin slightly ahead–44 percent to 43 percent. His lead is attributed to the “hyper polarization” of politics and “McCaskill’s continued unpopularity.”
Akin said in a radio interview with Mike Huckabee on Monday that he is “not a quitter” and later told conservative Fox host Sean Hannity that he will remain in the race, reported USA Today Aug. 20. He also tweeted around 3 pm on Monday, “I am in this race to win. We need a conservative Senate. Help me defeat Claire by donating,” with a link to his fundraising page.
In the Huckabee interview, he attempted to “clarify” his earlier comments, saying, ”I was talking about forcible rape…I used the wrong word,” reported Slate.
Akin told a TV interviewer on Aug. 19 that women’s bodies are almost always able to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” The six-term congressman, who faces first-term McCaskill in November, was responding to a question on a St. Louis television station about abortion. Akin opposes abortion in all instances, including for pregnancies that result from rape.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said on KTVI-TV. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.” Later, Akin said he “misspoke.”
An oft-cited 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, or over 32,000 per year.
Prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle have weighed in.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) issued statements saying they “did not oppose” abortions in pregnancies resulting from rape.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who is in a very tight race against Elizabeth Warren, believes Akin should step out of the race entirely, according to Politico.
President Obama stepped into the fray, telling reporters, “Rape is rape” and that “The idea that we should be parsing, qualifying, slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people,” reported the LA Times.
Samantha Kimmey is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y. covering women and politics this election season.