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Republicans urge Akin to leave Senate race (+video)

Following comments U.S. Representative Todd Akin made over the weekend about rape, the GOP is encouraging him to give up his nomination in a Senate race in Missouri. Akin has lost Republican financial backing, but he has so far resisted stepping down.   

By Patricia Zengerle and David LawderReuters / August 20, 2012

This file photo shows U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Akin said in an interview Sunday that pregnancy from rape is "really rare."

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, file



Senior Republicans urged congressman Todd Akin on Monday to quit the U.S. Senate race in Missouri over his inflammatory remarks about rape that distracted from the party's nomination next week of Mitt Romney for U.S. president.

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Rep. Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape" have forced Republican party leaders, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, to suggest he quit the race for Senate in Missouri. Wyatt Andrews reports.

Akin was widely criticized for saying in a television interview Sunday that women have biological defenses to prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape," making legal abortion unnecessary.

As pressure built on Akin, Republicans cut off cash for his campaign which had looked like a relatively easy victory against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, President Barack Obama called Akin's remarks offensive, compounding the Republicans' discomfort.

The furor pushed the campaign debate squarely onto social issues and away from jobs, which Romney has tried to keep at the center of his bid to win the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Akin's remarks complicated Republican efforts to capture the four Democratic seats they need ensure a majority in the 100-member Senate.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, chairman of the influential committee that raises money for Republican Senate candidates, called Akin's comments "indefensible."

The committee will withhold $5 million in planned spending on TV advertising in Missouri if Akin does not step aside, a committee official said.

"I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service," Cornyn said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, asked whether Akin should drop out of the Senate race, told CNN: "If it was me, I would step aside and let someone else run for that office." Priebus condemned Akin for a "bizarre statement" that is "biologically stupid," and said he would prefer if Akin not attend the Republican National Convention next week.

Democrats used the Akin remarks as evidence that Republicans are waging a "war on women," largely over birth control.

"Rape is rape," Obama said. Akin's comments underscore "why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women," he said.

Akin, a Tea Party-backed conservative who opposes abortion, caused an uproar when he said in the interview that the need for abortions in the case of rape was "a particularly tough ethical question." 

'Legitimate rape'

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