Missouri Rep. Todd Akin again rejected dropping out of the Missouri Senate rate amid Republican fears that he's become too politically toxic to win.
"We're going to be here through the November election, and we're going to be here to win," Akin said at a press conference in Missouri arranged on short notice.
The conservative congressman has been under fire since last Sunday, when he said on a public affairs show that "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy. For that comment, Akin has apologized, but virtually the entire Republican leadership — including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney — have urged Akin to step aside, and allow Republicans to name a different candidate for Senate.
Akin has spent the past few days in Tampa, the site of the forthcoming Republican National Convention, rallying social conservative leaders behind his flailing candidacy.
"Our position on him and his candidacy has not changed," Tony Perkins, of the socially conservative Family Research Council, said Thursday on MSNBC. "He has a very difficult road ahead of him, and I think he's still pondering his decision as to what he does, although at this point, he said he's going to stay in."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a prominent supporter of Akin's in a hard-fought, three-way primary, also came to the congressman's defense.
"Who ordered this "Code Red" on Akin?" Huckabee asked supporters in an email on Thursday. "If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin … I'm waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves."
The Missouri Senate race is crucial to Republicans' hopes of winning back the Senate. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill had been seen as vulnerable, though she's seen as having a political advantage after Akin's comments. She has refused to address the controversy over Akin's campaign fortunes, saying only that she expects to face him as her general election opponent.
Akin could still drop out by Sept. 25, allowing the state GOP to name a replacement. Akin would have to ask a court to remove his name from the ballot in that instance, and pay for the cost of reprinting the ballots.