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GOP brass calls on Akin to withdraw, Democrat McCaskill says he should stay in

Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio

Embattled Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin says he plans to stay in the race for U.S. Senate.

The fallout from Akin’s comments about pregnancies caused by “legitimate rape” has prompted a storm of criticism, including fellow Republicans, many of whom say Akin should withdraw his candidacy for Senate immediately.  

The conservative PAC Crossroads GPS is pulling its ads from the Missouri race.  The group had originally booked a new round of ads to start Wednesday but opted instead to cancel them.

An odd bit of political posturing has Akin’s opponent, Democrat Claire McCaskill, actually defending Akin's right to run for Senate.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Festus, MO, McCaskill says the idea that Akin will be forced to step down by party insiders is a slap in the face of Missouri voters.

“I think what’s startling to me,” says McCaskill, “is that these party big wigs are coming down on him and saying that he needs to kick sand in the face of the Republican primary voters.”

Political observers claim McCaskill wants Todd Akin as an opponent, because he would be easier to brand as “too extreme for Missouri.”

McCaskill says she disagrees with his comments, but believes them to be an accurate reflection of candidate Akin and the qualities that Republican voters chose when they selected him in a crowded primary.

“This is a man who is sincere,” said McCaskill, “I honestly do have sympathy for him, because I think there are some big people in the party that are trying to pull the rug out from underneath Missouri voters—he won his race fair and square.”

McCaskill’s seat is considered by many to be the GOP’s only chance at recapturing a majority in the Senate.

Akin has since apologized for his comments, appearing first on former Governor Mike Huckabee's radio show.  "Rape is never legitimate," said Akin. "I used the wrong words in the wrong way."

Akin also said he knows "that people do become pregnant from rape," and that he didn't mean to imply that it didn't happen.

As far as the issue of stepping down, "I'm not a quitter," Akin said. "By the grace of God, we're going to win this race. The people who elected me know that I'm not perfect. Just because somebody makes a mistake doesn't make them useless."

Still, top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Cornyn of Texas have advised Akin to spend time considering what is best for his family, party and country, which is broadly interpreted as political code for asking him to withdraw.

Missouri election rules allow a candidate to withdraw 11 weeks prior to the Nov. 6 election, which is Tuesday August 21.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington