Todd Akin, the Missouri congressman who caused a furor Sunday with a comment about "legitimate rape" and abortion, was facing calls from fellow Republicans to drop out of the Senate race against incumbent Clair McCaskill on Monday. GOP Senators Scott Brown, who faces a tough reelection battle in Massachusetts, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin were among those calling on the six-term congressman to step aside. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will withdraw the $5 million it has committed for broadcast ads in the Missouri race if Akin stays in, USA Today reported. Crossroads GPS, a Republican super PAC, has already announced it is withdrawing from the race.
In a TV interview aired on St. Louis station KTVI Sunday, Akin was asked if he believed abortion should be outlawed even when a pregnancy is the result of rape. "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," he replied. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
The station posted the interview on its website, and it stirred up angry denunciations from women's and abortion rights spokesman and organizations, as well as repudiations from both President Obama and the Romney campaign. Akin had issued a clarifying statement Sunday, saying he "misspoke" in the interview, but Republicans, fearful of losing the chance to defeat McCaskill in November, were nonetheless pressuring him to give the Missouri GOP a chance to field another candidate. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Campaign Committee, publicly urged Akin to take 24 hours to "carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party and the values that he cares about" in deciding whether to continue his campaign.
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Photo of Rep. Todd Akin: AP Images