Republican US Representative Todd Akin resisted pressure to quit the US Senate race in Missouri yesterday, releasing a new ad apologizing for his inflammatory remarks about rape that have reinserted controversial abortion politics into the US presidential campaign.
In an ad released online, Akin again apologized for his comments on Sunday, when he claimed in a TV interview that women could not get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” even as senior Republicans condemned his remarks and called for him to step aside in the race.
Yesterday was the last day for candidates to file in the Missouri race, giving Republicans until later in the day to easily submit a replacement, if Akin decides to drop out.
“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize,” Akin said in the Web video.
“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,” he added.
Akin, saying that he is the father of two daughters, said he wanted “tough justice” for rapists and expressed compassion for victims.
The Republican challenger is running against Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill in the Nov. 6 election. Akin had until 5pm yesterday to drop out without a court order. He can quit as late as Sept. 25 if he produces an order to remove his name from the ballot.
His comments have become a distraction ahead of next week’s Republican convention to nominate former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for US president and put the focus on social issues, rather than Romney’s main message of the economy and jobs.
The controversy has also complicated Republican efforts to win the majority in the 100-member US Senate.
However, a poll conducted on Monday night showed little effect from the controversy on the closely contested Missouri race.
Findings from Public Policy Polling showed Akin ahead of McCaskill 44 percent to 43 percent, even though the majority of Missouri voters said his rape comments were inappropriate. Before the controversy, the polling firm found Akin ahead 45 percent to 44 percent.
“Todd Akin still has a very decent chance at winning the Missouri Senate race,” Public Policy Polling president Dean Debnam said. “Voters were appalled by his comments about abortion, but not so much that they decided to vote Democratic when they were previously planning to support the GOP.”