Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri said he plans to stay in the race for Senate despite widespread condemnation from fellow Republicans over his comments about rape.
“I’m not a quitter,” Mr. Akin said on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, even as he apologized for his comments. “My belief is we’re going to move this thing forward. To quote my friend John Paul Jones, ‘I’ve not yet begun to fight.’ “
At the same time, he added, “I really just want to apologize to those I’ve hurt. I have spoken in error.”
In an interview Sunday with KTVI in St. Louis, Mr. Akin, who is trying to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), was asked whether he favors abortion in cases of rape. “It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Reaction from both parties has been fierce to Mr. Akin’s distinction between “legitimate rape” and other kinds and to the suggestion that women’s bodies can shut down unwanted pregnancies.
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), who coordinates the Republican Senate campaigns, issued a statement that suggested Mr. Akin should consider withdrawing from the Senate race.
“Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” Mr. Cornyn said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), who is locked in a tough re-election fight in a Democratic-leaning state, said Mr. Akin should quit the Missouri race.
“There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking,” Mr. Brown said. “Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.”
Mitt Romney also condemned the comments. “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told National Review Online.
President Barack Obama said Mr. Akin’s comments were “way out there” and “offensive.” The president said he didn’t think his Republican opponent in the presidential race, Mr. Romney, would agree with Mr. Akin’s remarks. But Mr. Obama used a reporter’s question about the matter to say there was a “significant difference” in abortion policy “between me and the other party.”
Abortion is a key issue for Mr. Akin, a six-term representative from the St. Louis suburbs. In 2011, he supported a bill that would have redefined the circumstances under which some federally funded health-care programs could be used for abortions to include only cases of “forcible rape” as opposed to “rape,” which critics said might prevent funding for abortions in cases of statutory rape and other circumstances.