Deadline passes, Akin stays in race for US Senate | St. Louis Public Radio

Deadline passes, Akin stays in race for US Senate

Aug 21, 2012

Will be updated.

Updated 10:46 p.m. Palin suggests a third party candidate

Sarah Palin, who backed Sarah Steelman during the heated GOP Senate primary, is suggesting a third party candidate to run against Akin.

Speaking to Fox News Palin said: "Bless his heart, I don't want to pile on Todd Akin." 

But, she then said that it's time for Akin to step aside.

"Missouri is a must-win state," Palin said.  "The way we do that is to have someone like Sarah Steelman be able to run, even if it's as a third-party candidate, to be able to run and take this back."

Updated 5:00 p.m. with deadline passing, Akin remaining in the race

Updated 4:36 p.m. with additional reporting. A full list of earlier updates can be found at the end of the post. Original story posted Aug. 21 12.33 p.m.

Despite tremendous pressure on him to act otherwise, Todd Akin will stay in the race against Claire McCaskill for US Senate. 

The deadline for Akin to remove himself from the race was 5 p.m. CT today. He will need a court order by Sept. 25 if he wants to drop out beyond this point.

Akin apologizes, but stays in

Akin reaffirmed his position on his candidacy this afternoon on former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's radio program.

Akin apologized again for his comments but maintained his candidacy will continue.

"I haven't done anything that was morally or ethically wrong as sometimes people in politics do," Akin said. "We do a lot of talking and to get a word in the wrong place, you know, that's not a good thing to do or to hurt anyone in that way, but it does seem to be a little bit of an overreaction."

Akin also said he disagrees with those Republicans calling on him to drop out of the campaign.

"Is there a matter of some justice here?" Akin said. "That I misspoke one word in one sentence in one day and all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides 'Well, Akin can't possibly win.' Well, I don't agree with that."

Later in the day, Akin told Sean Hannity that we would obviously feel “terrible” if his comments cost Republicans a chance at a majority in the Senate.

“I would get out of the race if I thought that were going to be the case,” Akin said. “But you know, the interesting thing is, in the political world, a lot of people make decisions based on politics and not on principle. And a lot of times the politics of the day look one way, but when you stand on principle, things turn out different. I’ve found that for years. I’ve stood up for the right thing, and I think we got a good result. The people of Missouri understood that.”

Akin said he would politely tell Mitt Romney no if the presumptive Republican nominee called him and asked him to step down.

“Don’t you think he may have bid this thing up and made this a bigger deal about it than he needed to?” Akin asked Hannity. “Why couldn’t he run his race and I run mine? My decision is to stay in this race and take to the people of Missouri the things that have made this a great country, and to talk about those things, to contrast the difference between me and my opponent, and reclaim our God-given values, to rebuild the American dream, and to make sure that the government is the servant and not the master.”

Prominent GOP leaders speak out

Almost concurrently to Akin's appearance on Huckabee's show, a joint statement from five prominent GOP leaders was released to the media, asking Akin to step aside: 

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt called U.S. Representative Todd Akin’s recent statements “totally unacceptable” and issued the following joint statement together with former Missouri U.S. Senators John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, John Danforth, and Jim Talent calling for Akin to step aside:

“We do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race. The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside.”

Former Senator Danforth told St.Louis Public Radio's Adam Allington that the issue is bigger than Todd Akin at this point.

“What’s at stake really is the direction we’re going to take as a country and how our state is going to participate in that,” Danforth said.  “So it’s a bigger question than him, and having led us into the woods, that’s where we’re stuck.”

Danforth said it was Monday when he first heard about Congressman Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape," and women “being able to shut the whole thing down” when they are raped.

“My reaction that this is a statement that is offensive to a lot of people, does not ring true, that is quite offensive, is off the wall,” Danforth said. “And it is quite important for the Republican Party to disassociate from this. And hopefully by Congressman Akin getting out of the race, but if he stays in the race for us to make very clear that he did not speak for anyone else but himself.”

Akin’s opponent for the Senate seat defended Akin’s right to run yesterday, even saying she felt sorry for him.  A position which has some Missouri Democrats (and Senator Danforth), saying McCaskill’s political calculus is a bit too self-serving.

“I think that Senator McCaskill does not have clean hands in this operation,” Danforth said. “I mean, I’m told that she put in more than $2 million, basically trying to win the nomination for Akin. And now she says nobody should try to undo her handiwork."

Other organizations weigh in

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement regarding their position on Akin's continuation in the race:

“This is undoubtedly a difficult time for Congressman Akin, but the stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual.  By staying in this race, Congressman Akin is putting at great risk many of the issues that he and others in the Republican Party are fighting for, including the repeal of ObamaCare. 

“It should not be lost on anyone that some of the only voices not calling for Congressman Akin to do the right thing and step aside are Claire McCaskill and the leaders of the pro-abortion movement.   Senator McCaskill knows that the only way she wins re-election is if Todd Akin is her opponent in November. 

“We continue to hope that Congressman Akin will do the right thing for the values he holds dear, but there should be no mistake – if he continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.”

- Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director

American Crossroads, a GOP advocacy organization backed by strategist Karl Rove, released the following statement:

“Rep. Akin faces a simple choice:  Will he help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority by staying in the race, or will he help Republicans defeat Barack Obama's most reliable ally in the Senate by getting out?”

-- Steven Law, American Crossroads President and CEO

Politico's Maggie Haberman reports that after she posted the same statement you see above from American Crossroads, a group spokesman emailed her to clarify:

UPDATE: A Crossroads spokesman emailed after I posted to clarify, and put a finer point on it than the group has: "Neither American Crossroads nor Crossroads GPS will spend in Missouri as long as Todd Akin is the Republican candidate."

Dr. Jack Willke, Founder of National Right to Life also issued a statement supporting Akin. The statement was brought to media attention via Akin's campaign.

Politico's Juana Summers tweeted that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said the following regarding Akin's situation:

The Associated Press also confirms Romney's comments.

Update summary for this story:

Updated 3:06 p.m. with Romney comments via Politico Updated 2:12 p.m. with American Crossroads clarification via Politico. Updated 1:30 p.m. with American Crossroads statement. Updated 1:15 p.m. with addition of NRSC statement.

Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter: @aallington

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Follow Bill Raack on Twitter: @billraack