Republican Congressman Todd Akin is renewing his vow to stay in the 2012 Missouri Senate race, creating an unusual scenario for the highly disciplined GOP - a candidate who refuses to heed party leaders' calls to withdraw.
Akin, whose comments about rape in an interview last weekend went viral and severely threatened his candidacy, said he is resisting even vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who called Akin personally and urged him to drop out.
Akin did say Wednesday that he would honor a public request from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus not to attend next week's GOP national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Making the rounds on the morning news shows, Akin said he is staying in the race "on principle."
"The people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate. And I don't believe it's right for party bosses to decide to override those voters," Akin said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
On NBC's "Today Show," Akin discussed the Ryan phone call and said, "It's not about me -- it's about standing on principle."
Akin said in an interview on Sunday that women's bodies could reject pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape," igniting a firestorm of criticism that included GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Priebus, Ryan, five current and former Missouri senators, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and even controversial conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Akin has apologized several times, including in a TV ad he released on Monday, but the race has tightened his once-dominant lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill to within the margin of error in multiple polls.
The controversy has also played into the hands of Democrats, who have spent much of the year accusing the GOP of waging a "war on women" on everything from equal-pay to reproductive rights.
The situation has even imperiled Republican hopes of taking over control of the Senate, since the party needs only a handful of seats to wrest power from Democrats.
Bowing to the seriousness of the controversy, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has withdrawn all funding and support for Akin despite the fact that McCaskill has been considered highly vulnerable.
by RTT Staff Writer
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