(Newsroom America) JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A growing number of GOP lawmakers are calling on Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin, who won the state's primary to face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in November, to step aside after a gaffe he made during an interview over abortion.
Akin, a pro-life conservative, suggested women's bodies can reject pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape," a comment which has caused an uproar on the political Left and has left the Missouri Republican's political future in doubt.
Akin had been leading McCaskill in the polls prior to the comment; her seat had been considered one of the most vulnerable for Democrats in the fall and crucial to the GOP if the party is to reverse a 53-47 Senate Democratic majority.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who leads the party's election efforts in the Senate, has called Akin personally to ask him to drop out, according to officials familiar with the conversation, The Wall Street Journal reported. Akin was told if he remains in the race, "he is putting not just this seat but the GOP's prospects for a Senate majority at great risk," said the official.
In a separate, official statement, Cornyn said, "Over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service."
As of Monday, Akin said he had no plans to withdraw. According to reports, if he does not voluntarily withdraw by 5 p.m. Tuesday, he would have to seek a court order to do so.
"I’m not a quitter," he told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his radio program. "My belief is we’re going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God, we’re going to win this race."
He added: "Rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act that’s committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words in the wrong way.
"I also know that people do become pregnant from rape. I didn’t mean to imply that that wasn’t the case," said Akin.
The uproar began following an interview with St. Louis TV station KTVI, when he was asked a standard question of Republicans: Should abortion be legal in cases of rape?
"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," he said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin quickly backtracked and later apologized for his comments, but the uproar continued.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney quickly condemned the remarks, saying they were "insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong."
Early Tuesday, the fallout continued. The Republican National Committee, which had reserved $5 million for Akin's race, announced it would not spend any money on the contest if he stayed in.
Crossroads GPS, a Republican advocacy group co-founded by Karl Rove which had spent $5 million to weaken McCaskill, announced it was withdrawing from the state, The New York Times reported.
And conservative columnist Ann Coulter, meanwhile, appealed to Akin's patriotic side in a column for Human Events, saying Akin should end his campaign and that Republicans should replace him with former state senator and treasurer Sarah Steelman, who finished a close third behind Akin the the GOP primary.
"If Akin truly loves his country and genuinely wants Roe v. Wade overturned, he will step aside and allow another Republican to run in his place. If he is a narcissist who cares more about himself than millions of unborn babies and Obamacare being repealed, he will not," she wrote.
The Akin campaign released an ad Tuesday entitled, "Forgiveness," in which he once again apologized for his remarks.
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