ST. LOUIS, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., told reporters in St. Louis Friday he will remain in the Missouri U.S. Senate race "through the November election."
Akin -- whose remarks on abortion and what he called legitimate rape during a TV interview set off a wave of demands by Republican leaders that he leave the campaign -- said at a news conference Friday he "may not be the favorite candidate of some people within the Republican establishment but the voters made a decision and this is an election, not a selection," Politico reported.
"There are some people who are having trouble understanding our message," he said. "We are going to be here through the November election and we are going to be here to win."
Those calling for Akin to resign the nomination included presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Citing a source close to Akin, Politico said the congressman was encouraged by the support he has received from, among others, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and participants in a meeting he attended this week of the conservative Council for National Policy in Tampa, Fla., where the Republican National Convention will be held next week.
CNN has reported the Akin campaign has raised more than $200,000 since the controversy erupted. However, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has said it will pull $5 million in advertising it had planned to spend on behalf of Akin's campaign and third-party political organizations including Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also said they will withdraw funding in the Missouri Senate campaign if Akin stays in.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., battling to keep her seat in November, has kept a low profile in the controversy. McCaskill aides say the issue isn't causing many voters to change their minds Akin could win, since Missouri is an increasingly more conservative state, Politico reported Friday.
McCaskill is instead focusing on the issues of Medicare, Social Security, student loans and school lunch programs, her campaign says.
McCaskill sent out fundraising letters after Akin's controversial comments and has been interviewed nationally about them but doesn't include the controversy on her list of campaign talking points, Politico said.
"It's going to be an election between me and Todd Akin," McCaskill told reporters during a recent campaign event in Overland, near St. Louis. "I'm going to continue drawing those contrasts on many subjects where we have much different opinions -- whether it's Social Security, whether it's Medicare, the minimum wage, student loans, school lunches, how we take care of veterans. There is a long laundry list of stark contrasts and that's what we're going to be talking about in this election."
Akin's comment that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy because women's bodies can shut down has turned the six-term congressman's Senate campaign sideways, observers say.
Democrats, women's groups and fellow Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have denounced Akins comments and called on him to withdraw from the Senate race.
Akin has apologized for his remarks, saying he misspoke. He said he won't attend the convention, honoring a request by Republican leaders.
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