KIRKWOOD, Mo., Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Embattled Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., begins a four-day bus tour Tuesday, the deadline for him to exit Missouri's U.S. Senate race.
Akin, whose controversial comment that pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape" are rare because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" exploded nationwide, has withstood calls from Republicans to step aside in his campaign against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and has enlisted prominent conservatives to boost his challenge, The Hill reported.
Former Republican presidential candidate and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared with Akin at a campaign event in a St. Louis suburb Monday to reaffirm his support for the candidate and to call for conservatives to back Akin's campaign.
Other notable conservatives voicing support include ex-presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who told The Hill he'd "certainly reconsider what I do" if Akin remains in the race past the Tuesday deadline.
DeMint also indicated that his political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, may channel funds into Akin's race.
RealClearPolitics.com's average of polls indicates McCaskill leads Akin by 5.3 percentage points.
After his comment, Republican leaders withdrew support and funding for Akin.
Despite the pressure to bow out, Akin maintained he would remain in the race.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told ABC's "This Week" Sunday, "We're not going to play in Missouri with Todd Akin, I can tell you that."
Unseating McCaskill had been considered a key point in the GOP's Senate takeover strategy.