Missouri's Akin refuses to step down over rape comments

Republican Todd Akin is insisting he is in the U.S. Senate race to stay, saying 'this is not about my ego' but about the voters of Missouri who chose him as their nominee.

U.S. Senate candidate says he will not apologize for being pro-life

Republican Todd Akin insists voters in Missouri knew they were not getting a "perfect candidate". (Sid Hastings/Associated Press)

Republican Todd Akin is insisting he is in the U.S. Senate race to stay, saying "this is not about my ego" but about the voters of Missouri who chose him as their nominee.

His comments follow a public plea from Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to step aside in the wake of a rising controversy surrounding his comments about abortion.

But Akin said: "It's not right for party bosses to override" the voters of Missouri. He said he told Ryan that he was thinking things over and wants to "do what's right". But he also says he's not abandoning his race, arguing that "I'm planning to win it".

The congressman acknowledged on ABC's "Good Morning America" that it was a mistake for him to refer to "legitimate" rapes but added he's apologized for that and that the voters of Missouri knew they weren't getting a "perfect" candidate.

"I'm not apologizing for the fact that I'm pro-life," he said.

Earlier this week, St. Louis television station KTVI aired an interview in which Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said.

Noreen McCann, who lives in the same suburban St. Louis area as Akin, said his rape comment hasn't weakened her support for him. McCann expressed frustration that Akin was being publicly flayed for his words while other Democrats, specifically President Bill Clinton, have survived scandals that included accusations of sexual impropriety and lies.

Akin "is a man of principle. I trust and respect his integrity and his commitment to defending American values," said McCann, who had passed out Akin fliers on primary election day. "I think he wants to defend all innocent human life. If he misspoke, or it was in the wrong context, that is not a major problem for me."

But other Missouri Republicans are second-guessing their support for Akin.

Steven and Carolyn Sipes, a pair of retired public school teachers, both voted for Akin in the primary. Carolyn is now doing some soul-searching prayer about whether Akin remains the best choice. Her husband believes Republicans would have a better shot of unseating McCaskill without Akin.

"If he decides to stay in, I'll back him to the hilt," Steven Sipes said. But "I think it would be better probably if he did drop out at this point. He's getting a lot of negative publicity."