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Akin on rape comments: 'We all make mistakes'

Christian Gooden / AP

Rep. Todd Akin is apologizing for Sunday's outrageous comments about rape, but saying he plans to stay in the race for the U.S. Senate.

"I'm not a quitter," Akin said on Mike Huckabee's radio show Monday afternoon. 

"We all make mistakes," Akin added. "The many people who supported me know that when you make a mistake what you need to do is say you're sorry." 

Akin called his comments a "very very serious error," but said he was still the best Republican to run for the U.S. Senate. “I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing Claire McCaskill,” he said, adding: “I dont know if I’m the only person in public office whos suffered from foot-in-mouth disease here.”

At issue is a response Akin gave during a local TV interview Sunday, when he was asked whether abortion should be legal in the case of rape. "From what I understand from doctors that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, uh, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." 

In the interview with Huckabee Monday, Akin backtracked from that view. “I also know that people do become pregnant from rape," he said. "It does happen, and it is terrible.”

Several prominent Republicans, including Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, have called on Akin to quit the race. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who chairs the GOP's Senate campaign committee, said in a statement that Akin "should carefully consider what is best for him" and the party.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, Preisdent Obama' called Akin's comments "offensive."

"Rape is rape," Obama said. "The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people. It certainly doesn’t make sense to me."

Rose Gordon Sala contributed reporting