Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and his wife, Lulli, in a file photo. Akin has been… (Orlin Wagner / AP Photo )
WASHINGTON – The head of GOP campaign efforts in the Senate gave Todd Akin 24 hours to “consider what is best” for him, his family and the Republican Party as the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri is under increasing pressure to step down after the firestorm of criticism over his comments about “legitimate rape.”
“Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of Republican campaign efforts to win majority control of the Senate.
“I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but 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."
Akin told a home state television station over the weekend in explaining his opposition to abortion that pregnancies in cases of rape are “really rare.”
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” the six-term Missouri congressman said in the interview with KTVI-TV.
The comment forced Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, and his running mate Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who also opposes abortion in cases of rape, to distance the GOP ticket from the comments of a fellow Republican.
It also potentially jeopardized what had been one of the GOP’s best opportunities to defeat an incumbent Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill, as Republicans seek to wrest control of the chamber this fall. Several prominent Republicans have said Akin should step down from the race.
Akin later said he had misspoke in “off the cuff remarks,” and asserted Monday in an interview on Mike Huckabee’s radio show he had no intention of stepping down.
"I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue,” Akin said Sunday. “But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
Akin emerged from a contested primary earlier this month as the more conservative of three candidates, and McCaskill’s campaign is eager to showcase the difference between the two and portray his views as out of step in a race – as her campaign did in statewide ads about the GOP candidates during primary season.
According to state guidelines, Akin has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to withdraw from the race, sparking a process where the state party would choose a new candidate, according to Jennifer Duffy, an analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.