Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus added his name to a growing list of prominent GOP voices telling Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin to leave the race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The uproar comes after Akin suggested Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy while responding to questions from a St. Louis television station about his opposition to abortions in cases of rape and incest.
“It was a moment of stupidity, that’s for sure, ” Priebus said in a brief interview in Tampa, where he is preparing for the start of the Republican National Convention, according to the Washington Post. ”He’s got to get on it. He’s got to think about it (withdrawing from the race).”
But Akin has stayed defiant, telling former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity Monday that he’s not going anywhere.
This is despite reports from an unnamed GOP source who told BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith that Akin is taking steps to withdraw by tomorrow’s 5 p.m. deadline for dropping out.
“I’m announcing today that we’re going to stay in," Akin said on the Sean Hannity Show, repeating what he had said hours earlier on Huckabee’s radio program.
“I’m not a quitter,” Akin told Huckabee on his radio show, echoing Richard Nixon’s famous line. “We all make mistakes.
“The many people who supported me know that when you make a mistake what you need to do is say you're sorry.”
Akin said he has not, however, received any calls from GOP party leaders to step down and called his comment “a very, very serious error.”
Priebus became the latest senior Republican leader to tell Akin to go after Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, warned Akin that he will not fund the race if he stays in because he could jeopardize GOP chances to retake the Senate in November.
Cornyn’s warning followed on the heels of condemnations from Republicans and Democrats alike, including Mitt Romney and Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) – the latter of whom also demanded that Akin step aside.
Hannity added his voice to the chorus calling Akin to step aside during the interview, adding that the election is bigger than one man.
Romney condemned his radioactive comments during a Sunday interview.
“Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney told National Review Online. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”
According to The Hill, the Romney-Ryan campaign separately issued comments condemning Akin’s statements and clarified Romney’s stance on abortions in cases of rape. It noted that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape, contrary to claims to the contrary by the Obama campaign.
His most recent remaks follow a statement he issued Sunday apologizing for having “misspoke” in the interview, which clarified his stance. He emphasized that he empathizes with the thousands of women who are raped each year and that a baby conceived through a rape is “another innocent victim” who should not be harmed.
Conservative blogger Dana Loesch – who is a native Missourian – took to Twitter Sunday to urge people not to overreact to Akin’s comments.
But Democrats are trying to make hay out of Akin’s statement.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sought to make it seem that Akin’s remark reflected a deeper view about how Republicans see women in a fundraising e-mail sent out early Monday morning.
“Now, Akin's choice of words isn't the real issue here,” Wasserman Schultz wrote. “The real issue is a Republican party -- led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”
Wasserman Schultz sought to tied Ryan to Akin’s comment, suggesting “Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women’s ability to make their own health care decisions.”
She also claimed that Ryan had co-sponsored legislation that would have narrowed the federal definition of rape.
McCaskill called Akin’s remark “a gut-check moment when they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us on the floor of the United States Senate."