Romney urges Akin to quit Senate race
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 6:43AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2012 10:35PM EDT
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday that Republican Rep. Todd Akin should bow out of the Senate race in Missouri after his controversial comments about rape and pregnancy.
"Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race," Romney said in a statement.
Several prominent Missouri politicians have called for Akin to exit the race.
On Monday, Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, criticized Akin’s remarks, but went a step further Tuesday to join the growing chorus against Akin’s continued candidacy.
Romney’s statement came hours after Akin said he will remain in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, and posted a video to YouTube in which he attempted to clarify his stance on rape and abortion, and apologized for using “the wrong words.”
In an interview that aired on Sunday, Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who had been raped.
The Missouri congressman replied that it was rare for women to become pregnant from a "legitimate" rape and that "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin’s comments instantly triggered an angry response from victims' rights advocates, Democrats, and even members of the Republican Party who have tried to distance themselves and the party from Akin.
Pressure mounted from within the party for Akin to pull out by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the legal deadline to abandon the race and submit a new candidate.
But Akin told a radio show hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that he intends to stay the course.
"By taking this stand, this is going to strengthen our country," Akin said Tuesday. "It will strengthen the Republican Party."
Akin’s vow to remain in the race came hours after he took to YouTube to try to explain his earlier, controversial remarks.
"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. 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."
He went on to add that rape can lead to pregnancy and "has many victims" and said the words he used did not accurately reflect his views.
"The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness," Akin said.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, said Akin’s comments might "prevent him from effectively representing" the Republican Party in Missouri.
McConnell called on Akin to seriously consider whether it is the right choice to continue in the race.
Two other Republican senators, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, also called on Akin to resign.
The Republican Party may also be shutting down financial support for Akin's campaign. He was reportedly told by Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, that US$5 million in advertising earmarked for Missouri will no longer be available and no other financial help will be provided by the party.
Cornyn told Akin that he was endangering the party's hopes of getting a Senate majority by staying in the race, an official told The Associated Press.