By Susan Davis, USA TODAY
Despite pressure from top Republicans, a defiant Rep. Todd Akin said today he will remain in the Missouri Senate race.
The Missouri lawmaker announced his decision on former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's radio show, where he appeared yesterday to apologize for controversial statements about rape and abortion.
"I said one word in one sentence on one day, and everything changed," Akin said today. "I believe the defense of the unborn and a deep respect for life. ... They are not things to run away from."
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Akin, a six-term House member, ignited a controversy with comments Sunday saying pregnancy could be prevented in the case of "legitimate rape" because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been trying to get him to withdraw from the race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. His comments have been widely rebuked, including by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and President Obama.
Akin reiterated his vow to stay in the race in a separate interview with conservative radio host Dana Loesch. "Let me just make it clear ... that we are not getting out of this race. We are in this race for the long haul and we are going to win it," he said.
Asked why he would stay in the race when prominent members of the GOP want him out, Akin explained to Huckabee that he believes he can continue to be a powerful voice for the sanctity of human life.
"I believe there is something that we're missing here, it's something that many Americans in their heart of hearts feel we need to be talking about, and it's not just the 'abortion' issue, it's the question of life," Akin said today. "Because the fact is in America the respect for human life is deeply engrained in our hearts."
Akin said his campaign has drawn support from small donors, even as the deep pockets of the NRSC and outside groups such as Crossroads GPS have pulled their resources from the state with him on the ballot. "I noticed a poll came out and (it) still had me a point ahead of Claire McCaskill," he said.
Akin said he has not done "anything that was morally or ethically wrong as sometimes people in politics do," as he called the outcry over his original remarks "a bit of an over-reaction."
"Our campaign in the past was defined by the fact that we stood on principle and we acted with courage," he said. "What we're doing here is standing on a principle about what American is. I believe this is the right thing for me to do. I will be able to add to the message, in some circles, that is being neglected by the Republican Party.
"That is the heart of a winning campaign," he said.