Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) apologized profusely, said he understood how pregnancy works and invoked Sept. 11 in his first interview since he unleashed a firestorm with a Sunday statement that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” can biologically fend off pregnancy.
He also vowed to stay in the Missouri Senate race, despite calls from more than one Republican senator for him to drop his bid.
“The good people of Missouri nominated me. And I’m not a quitter. And my belief is we’re going to take this thing forward,” Akin told Mike Huckabee on his talk radio show Monday. “To quote my old friend John Paul Jones, ‘I’ve not yet begun to fight.’”
Huckabee endorsed Akin in the Aug. 7 Republican primary, and Akin canceled a previously scheduled local media interview Monday and appeared on Huckabee’s show instead. Akin professed deep regret for the people he had hurt, but said he meant “forcible rape” instead of “legitimate rape” in his interview Sunday.
“I was talking about ‘forcible rape’ and it was absolutely the wrong word,” Akin said. “Forcible rape” is a term included in H.R. 3, the controversial House abortion bill Akin, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other social conservatives co-sponsored in 2011. “Forcible rape” was dropped from that bill after it caused a similar uproar.
Akin did not expressly discuss his contention that women who are victims forcible rape have biology that prevents pregnancy in most cases, but he explained that he understood rape victims can be impregnated.
“I also know that people do become pregnant from rape and I didn’t mean to imply that that wasn’t the case,” he said. “It does happen.”
Despite the fact that more than one elected Republican called on him publicly to drop out of the Senate race Monday, Akin said no one had personally asked him to drop out.
“Just because somebody made a mistake doesn’t make them useless,” he said.
Akin said he understood why some of his fellow Republicans would want to distance themselves from him.
“I understand from watching other people who’ve made mistakes that, you know, nobody wants to own your mistake. And I don’t think anybody should. And that’s why I’m apologizing for what I did wrong,” Akin said.
Then he referenced Sept. 11.
We believe that life is something that comes from our creator. We’re made in his image. And all across America you see Americans that have a respect for life — it’s not a political debate, it’s not words it’s how they live their lives. I remember in Sept. 11 rescue workers running into the building that’s about to collapse. They grabbed somebody that’s in a wheelchair, pick him up, they don’t check their ID to see whether they’re important or not. They just take them to safety and run back for more. They by their lives speak as Americans about what we think about the value of human beings and how much repeat we hold people with. … That’s the very special thing about our country.
After the interview, a number of top Republicans called on Akin to reconsider staying in. He answered them in a tweeted promise to remain in the race.