Missouri Republican Todd Akin said he isn’t dropping out of his U.S. Senate race, anticipating money from party supporters may start flowing his way once a Sept. 25 deadline passes for him to petition the state’s courts to remove his name from the ballot.
Back on Capitol Hill for the first time since he said in an Aug. 19 television interview that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy, Akin told reporters yesterday that national Republican groups may reconsider and back his bid to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill.
“I would expect, if that’s going to happen, you’ll see it after about the 25th,” Akin, a Missouri congressman, said after leaving the House floor, where he chatted with a number of fellow Republican lawmakers.
Akin vowed he is staying in the race, resisting pressure from party leaders, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who called Akin’s remarks about rape “outrageous.”
“I’m not getting out,” Akin said. “Our polling data and everything says we’re going to win this race. That’s the plan and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Following Akin’s comments, Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group that former George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove helped create, announced it was pulling out of the state, canceling millions of dollars in planned advertisements. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it won’t spend money on the race so long as Akin is the nominee.
Speaking at an Aug. 30 donor breakfast at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Rove joked that Akin might be “found mysteriously murdered.” Rove later called Akin and apologized.
Akin, who beat St. Louis businessman John Brunner and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman in an Aug. 7 primary, said he had been hearing from “people all over the state” who were urging him not to let “party bosses” thwart the will of the people.
“You stay there and you fight, that’s what I am getting from all over the state,” Akin said.
Under Missouri law, candidates have until Sept. 25 to leave a race with a judge’s permission. Akin had until Aug. 21 to withdraw from the race without a court order.
Republicans have been counting on McCaskill’s seat as one of four they must pick up to ensure they win control of the Senate in the Nov. 6 election. Following Akin’s comments, McCaskill has led Akin in a pair of statewide polls, unlike earlier in the year when she consistently trailed him, although usually by a slimmer margin than the two other potential Republican opponents.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Mason-Dixon poll conducted Aug. 22-23 showed McCaskill with a nine-percentage-point lead, and a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Aug. 28-29 showed the race essentially tied, with Akin trailing McCaskill by one percentage point.
Akin has apologized for his remarks, saying he misspoke. His campaign ran an ad Aug. 29 in which Akin contrasts what he described as a “six-second mistake” with McCaskill’s “six- year record” of supporting President Barack Obama’s policies.
Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who talked with Akin for more than 10 minutes tonight on the House floor, said the two discussed college football as well as Akin’s Senate bid. Kingston defended Akin’s decision to stay in the race.
“I’ve been here 20 years and I’ve seen lots of members have the feeding frenzy turn on them,” Kingston said. “You ought to be able to make a mistake -- particularly in your rhetoric where you quickly are the first one to apologize for it as he was, then, that should not define you and that should not be unforgivable whether you are Democrat or Republican.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org