JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Newsroom America) -- U.S. Rep. Todd Akin defied Republicans Monday and vowed to remain in his race to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill after a number of top GOP candidates and officials called on him to step aside following controversial comments he made about rape and abortion.
In interviews Tuesday, Akin accused his GOP brethren of overreacting to his comments to an interviewer Monday in St. Louis, in which he said women's bodies can prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."
"I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day, and all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides, 'Well, Akin can't possibly win,'" Akin told former GOP presidential contender and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his radio program. "Well, I don't agree with that."
Later, Akin told radio host Sean Hannity the same thing and refused to say he would drop out of the race against a vulnerable McCaskill even if presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney asked him to do so - which the former Massachusetts governor did Tuesday evening.
Akin said he believes he can bounce back from his gaffe and still win in November. He pointed to polling prior to his comments that showed him comfortably ahead of McCaskill, considered one of the most vulnerable of Senate Democrats this election cycle.
"I'm in this race for the long haul, and we're going to win it," he said in an interview with St. Louis radio host Dana Loesch.
If he remains in the race, Akin will face an uphill battle financially. A number of groups, including a PAC co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee, have pulled funds they had earmarked to help Akin defeat McCaskill.
In a potential sign of his rebuilding strategy, however, Akin appealed to Christian conservatives, anti-abortion activists and anti-establishment Republicans to support him against one of President Barack Obama's staunchest allies in the Senate.
And, in a video released early Tuesday and posted on YouTube, Akin apologized for his comments once again, saying, "The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."
Nevertheless, a chorus of Republicans stepped up pressure on Akin to end his campaign and allow another candidate to face McCaskill instead. Sen. Roy Blunt issued a joint statement with all four of Missouri's living former Republican senators - John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, Jim Talent and John Danforth - saying it "serves the national interest" for Akin to step away.
In pointing to the group of current and former lawmakers, Romney advised Akin to "accept their counsel."
Akin had until 5 p.m. local time to file paperwork with the Secretary of State's office withdrawing from the ballot. As the time passed, Akin found himself increasingly isolated.
The Missouri Republican provoked anger and resentment when he described for a KTVI host his general opposition to abortion extends to women who have been raped.
"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said.
Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law said Akin's decision to remain in the race will potentially help Democrats retain control of the Senate.
And Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, suggested Akin's decision was selfish.
"The stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual," he told The Associated Press, adding that Akin "is putting at great risk many of the issues that he and others in the Republican Party are fighting for."
Some GOP-leaning organizations, however, expressed support for Akin.
The Missouri lawmaker "remains a strong and courageous pro-life leader - and awkward wording in one sound bite doesn't negate that," said Jack Willke, former president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee, in a letter released by the Akin campaign Tuesday.
Akin can withdraw from the race as late as Sept. 25, but after Tuesday, he would need a court order to do so, AP reported.
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