By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s future in the U.S. Senate race grew increasingly cloudy Monday, after the firestorm he created with his comments on a local morning news show Sunday only increased in intensity.
Akin, who represents District 2, drew national ire from all sides Sunday, when he said on the Jaco Report on Fox 2 news in St. Louis that women are unlikely to get pregnant during a “legitimate rape.”
The GOP nominee for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Democrat Claire McCaskill faced calls for his resignation from many in his own party.
Akin said on former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s radio show Monday morning that he would stay in the race, but news reports citing unnamed sources claimed Akin planned to pull out Tuesday.
McCaskill is considered vulnerable, and recent polling numbers had Akin up by about 10 percentage points prior to his comments.
“I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri,” U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said in a statement.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Akin’s comments were “wildly offensive to any victim of sexual abuse.”
“Although Representative Akin has apologized, I believe he should take time with his family to consider whether this statement will prevent him from effectively representing our party in this critical election,” McConnell said in a statement.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Akin the committee would not invest in him this fall even though $5 million had been reserved for the Missouri GOP nominee.
“It has been communicated to the congressman from the committee that by staying in this race, he is putting not just this seat but the GOP’s prospects for a Senate majority at great risk,” an official from that committee told the Los Angeles Times.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the National Review that Akin’s comments were “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.”
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, endorsed Akin during an April campaign stop in Missouri. It’s not clear if he still supports him.
“We will figure out how to reduce government spending and we reduce the reach of government in our lives,” said King during the April speech. “When you do that you expand American freedom and American liberty. That’s what he does every day.”
“It is really important that Missouri stands up and elects a patriotic constitutional conservative to the United States Senate,” King said, referring to Akin.
King, a five-term congressman, did not return calls and emails from Watchdog seeking comment Monday.
Akin’s poor choice of words wasn’t the first time he potentially misstepped on an abortion issue.
Akin was one of 227 U.S. House members last year to co-sponsor H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. That bill would limit federal money to pay for abortions for victims of only “forcible rape.”
When critics questioned that language, the wording “forcible” was removed. The bill was passed by the House in a bipartisan effort, 251-175, and the U.S. Senate has yet to take it up.
Nadia Brown, a political science professor at St. Louis University, told Missouri Watchdog that the “national outrage will inhibit” Akin’s chances of election if he chooses to stay in the race.
She said she suspects Akin’s comments will put the Missouri Senate race further into the national limelight, drawing more attention — as well as campaign contributions and superPAC spending.
“McCaskill will benefit from the outside interest,” Brown said.
The YouTube page on which the Jaco Report video was posted had received six likes and 210 dislikes Monday afternoon. Akin posted a statement apologizing for his comment on his Facebook page, drawing dozens more negative comments.
“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin wrote.
Akin, who gave up his House seat after six terms to run for Senate, said he recognized abortion was a “very emotionally charged issue” and that he believes “deeply in the protection of all life.”
“I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.”
McCaskill is staunchly pro-choice, and one of her top contributors is an organization that supports abortion rights, Missouri Watchdog reported in July.
On issues of abortion, Akin has been consistent in his opposition.
During his congressional career, Akin has voted against embryonic stem cell research and partial-birth abortions and for restricting the interstate transportation of minors to get abortions.
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League gave Akin a rating of 0 percent for his congressional voting record, while National Right to Life rated Akin 100 percent for his pro-life positions.
Akin told a Kansas City radio station two weeks ago that the morning-after pill should be banned, calling it a form of abortion.
Iowa Watchdog’s Sheena Dooley contributed to this report.