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Did Todd Akin just cost GOP a US Senate takeover? (+video)

With the uproar over his comment on 'legitimate rape,' Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has likely hurt his chances at beating Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November. Control of the Senate hangs in the balance – and Akin is resisting calls to exit the race.

By Staff writer / August 20, 2012

Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri speaks at the Missouri Farm Bureau candidate interview and endorsement meeting in Jefferson City, Mo., in this Aug. 10 photo. Akin, the GOP's Senate candidate in Missouri, is now under fire for saying women are not likely to become pregnant as a result of a 'legitimate rape.'

Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP

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Washington

Amid the uproar over Rep. Todd Akin’s comment on “legitimate rape,” one question has risen to the top: Did the Missouri Senate candidate just take his party one step away from taking over the US Senate?

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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.

Congressman Akin is now damaged in his quest to beat the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, Claire McCaskill, and his party knows it. Several Republican senators have called on him to drop out of the race. The senator in charge of the GOP’s Senate election effort, John Cornyn of Texas, said in a statement that Akin should take 24 hours and “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."

The Cornyn statement suggested that Akin should quit the race, and raised doubts over whether the National Republican Senatorial Committee will invest money in the race if he remains a candidate.

In a radio interview Monday afternoon, Akin dug in his heels.

“To quote my friend John Paul Jones, I’ve not yet begun to fight,” Akin said on Mike Huckabee’s radio show. 

Akin is reportedly being encouraged to stay in the race by his wife, who is a close adviser, and his son, who is running his Senate campaign.

Akin has also received statements of support from two prominent anti-abortion leaders – Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, and Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List. This opposing view raises the specter of a division among Republicans on the eve of their convention over the place of the abortion issue in the campaign. Many Republican leaders want to keep the campaign focused on the economy, President Obama’s weak spot, and away from divisive social issues.

The furor over Akin began on Sunday, when he asserted in a TV interview that pregnancy from rape is “really rare.” He was explaining his opposition to abortion with no exceptions.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said on KTVI-TV in St. Louis. Later on Sunday, Akin said he “misspoke” but stood by his absolute position on abortion.

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