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What's keeping Todd Akin in Senate race? (+video)

Republican Senate contender Todd Akin expressed a determination to stay in the race, even amidst advice from others in his party to step down. He says his comments relating to rape boil down to 'one word in one sentence on one day.' 

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No less than control of the U.S. Senate could hang in the balance. Many political observers maintain that Republicans must oust Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in November to have a shot at retaking the chamber they last held in 2007.

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But Akin ignored a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday that marked the last time he could withdraw without involving the courts.

He can still step down before Sept. 25, state officials said, but he would then have to ask a court to order the state to remove his name from the ballot. His campaign, or presumably the state party, would still be liable for covering the cost of reprinting any ballots with his name on them.

Missouri law states that the court issues a removal order. Some Democrats said if Akin withdraws, they might challenge him in court to further confuse matters for the GOP, which would pick a replacement to run against McCaskill.

After Tuesday’s deadline passed, a McCaskill spokesman said that the choice between Akin and McCaskill “is stark, and Missouri voters will get to decide who will be on their side in the U.S. Senate.”

Democrats also branded the GOP plank on abortion that was adopted Tuesday in Tampa as the “Akin plank.” The plank, as it has since 2004, declares support for a constitutional amendment establishing that human life begins at conception.

A new SurveyUSA poll Tuesday determined that 54 percent of Missourians think Akin should drop out of the race.

But not all of the day’s developments were bad news for Akin, a six-term congressman from the St. Louis area. The Democratic polling business Public Policy Polling released a new survey that showed Akin leading McCaskill, but by a single point — 44-43 percent — a finding that Akin said showed that he was remaining competitive, despite all the negative attention.

Meanwhile, Akin, who declined to comment for this story, released a new TV ad that showed him looking directly into the camera and asking voters for forgiveness.

“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize,” he says in the spot. “I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault.”

He also rebuffed his own remark in the TV interview by saying in the ad, “The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The mistake I made is in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

Some Republicans acknowledged that the direct, eyes-on-the-camera ad was effective. And for the first time several conservative Republicans stepped forward to support Akin.

“Todd Akin is a strong Christian man with a wonderful family,” U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa told a TV station. “I think this election should be about how did Todd Akin vote, and what did he vote for, what did he stand for. And in this case I’m seeing the same thing — petty personal attacks substituting for strong policy.”

Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the St. Louis-based Eagle Forum, said of Akin: “He’s not for rape. That’s ridiculous. They’re making a big thing about an unfortunate remark.”

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