Republican who shocked US defies calls to quit key Senate race

 

Washington

The Republican candidate whose remarks on abortion and rape have created a national uproar was yesterday still refusing to withdraw from his pivotal Senate race in Missouri, despite demands from infuriated and embarrassed party leaders and the loss of millions of dollars of campaign funding.

Normally such pressure would instantly end a candidacy. From Mitt Romney down, the Republican establishment has disowned him, urging Congressman Todd Akin to make way for another challenger to face incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, whose seat the Republicans were banking on in their bid to regain control of the Senate in November.

Under Missouri's election laws, Mr Akin had until 5pm local time yesterday to pull out without facing a legal or financial penalty. But he remained defiant, proclaiming that he was "not a quitter", and even recording a new television ad in which he asks voters to forgive him, but repeats his comprehensive opposition to abortion.

Mr Akin was clearly banking on the strong support he still appears to enjoy in his home state from social conservatives, who carried him to an upset victory in the 7 August primary against two more-favoured candidates. But for the national party, the episode is an unmitigated disaster.

The timing is terrible, just five days before Republicans convene in Tampa, Florida, to crown Mr Romney as their nominee. Not only does it distract attention from the economic issues on which Republicans believe they can defeat Barack Obama, it also came just as the party's policy committee, meeting in Tampa, approved platform language backing a constitutional amendment that outlaws abortion with no specific exceptions for rape or incest – which is more or less the basic position of Mr Akin.

The episode risks further alienating women voters, among whom President Obama's Republican challenger trails by more than 20 per cent, according to some polls. It also turns the spotlight on the rigidly anti-abortion views of Paul Ryan, Mr Romney's running mate. The two men have reportedly spoken since the row erupted. Whether Mr Ryan too suggested Mr Akin withdraw is not clear.

Most alarming of all perhaps for Republicans is the prospect that, if he stays in the race, Mr Akin could cost them not just the Missouri seat, but overall control of the Senate as well. Republicans need a net gain of four seats, and Ms McCaskill has long been considered the most vulnerable Democrat, running in an increasingly Republican state, where she is increasingly unpopular, and only narrowly won in 2006. But against so discredited an opponent she clearly reckons she now has a chance. Thus the weird spectacle of a Democrat lauding the qualities of Mr Akin, as Ms McCaskill was doing yesterday – in a bid to persuade social conservatives not to desert their man.

The remarks that generated the firestorm came in a television interview on Sunday, in which Mr Akin raised the notion of "legitimate rape", and suggested that the female body had a mechanism to prevent women who were raped from getting pregnant – in the Congressman's words, "to shut that whole thing down".

The Republican Senatorial Committee and a leading party-advocacy group, Crossroads GPS, meanwhile, both announced they were halting funding for the candidate, depriving him of a potential $10m.

In his new advert, Mr Akin acknowledges that "rape is an evil act… I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologise."

Mea culpa Akin in his own words

"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologise."

"As a father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault, and I pray for them."

"The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."

'Rape can lead to the birth of great people'

When former Arkansas Govern-or Mike Huckabee invited Todd Akin on his radio show on Monday, he no doubt intended to lend the Congressman a hand out of the hole he had dug for himself, after he opined a link between pregnancy and rape. But, Mr Huckabee ended up sparking a furore of his own, suggesting that in some circumstances, rape leads to the birth of estimable people: "Ethel Waters [the late singer], for example, was the result of a forcible rape… And yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."

Nikhil Kumar

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments