Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) reiterated Tuesday that he will not drop out of his Senate race over his “legitimate rape” comments, pushing aside a battery of Republican leaders in and out of Missouri who have demanded he step aside.
“I want to make things absolutely clear,” Akin told Mike Huckabee on his radio program Tuesday. “We are going to continue with this race for the United States Senate.”
Akin justified his decision to ignore his party’s near-universal disavowal of his campaign by citing his pro-life convictions, saying he felt he was uniquely positioned to make the social conservative case to voters.
“This is the reason why we are going to continue,” he told Huckabee. “I believe there is a cause here, that there is a part of the message that’s missing and a lot of people feel left out of the parties.”
He said that “we have a message that people understand — it isn’t just in the brain, it’s in the heart.”
Akin characterized the outbursts against his comments as disproportionate. “It does seem like a little bit of an overreaction,” he said.
In an odd aside, he once again referenced the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying he saw a similar American spirit in the first responders who rushed into the burning towers to rescue elderly survivors. He made a similar remark in defending himself on Huckabee’s show Monday.
Huckabee asked Akin how he could win given his lack of official Republican support. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and conservative outside group American Crossroads have already said they will pull any funding for ads supporting of Akin.
He also said that despite the uproar, he believes staying in the race will “strengthen our country — going to strengthen, ultimately, the Republican Party.”
“I believe we can win this,” Akin said, citing a snap poll taken Monday by Democratic pollster PPP that showed him with a 1-point lead. “People told me we couldn’t possibly win the primary.”
As for his detractors, Akin acknowledged that the institutional side of the party has turned its back, but he expects “a great deal of grassroots support.” Major pro-life groups have reiterated support for Akin and he has been running ads online to attract donations, potentially providing him an alternative fundraising route.
“I do receive continuing calls from other people and other congressmen who are very supportive,” he said.
Akin reiterated his stance in a second radio appearance immediately afterward with tea party activist Dana Loesch, closing off the notion he might be open to changing his mind later, perhaps after Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for him to exit the race without major consequence to his party’s ability to field a replacement.
“We are not getting out of this race,” he said. “I’m in this race for the long haul and we’re going to win it.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.