Akin to stay in race despite outcry over "legitimate rape" comments

Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri said he'll stay in the race for the U.S. Senate despite calls from across the political spectrum for him to drop out.

"#Akin" was still trending on Twitter on Tuesday, two days after the Missouri congressman committed a gaffe on rape. And Missouri voters were still reeling from what many viewed as an incendiary choice of words.

Republican Todd Akin had until 5 p.m. to decide whether he ought to remain in a U.S. Senate race but had already announced that he was not quitting, despite the pressure from his own party.

He has apologized for saying that a woman's body is capable of preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape" and asked for forgiveness in a television ad.

In his home state, people were divided over whether the six-term representative should drop out.

Beverly Johnson of St. Charles, Missouri, in the heart of Akin's 2nd Congressional District, said she voted for Akin in the past and plans to vote for him again.

"I cringed because basically I agree with his stance on abortion," she said. "But the way he said it, it could have been worded differently. ... A legitimate rape? You know, like, what rapes aren't legitimate?"

Still, she thinks it's too soon to pass judgment.

"I think, let's let it play out and see what happens."

Judi Meredith, a Democrat and owner of a counseling practice that often deals with rape victims, said she was horrified by Akin's comments. He should withdraw from the race immediately, she said.

"That's a really terrible crime that's used against people, and if he doesn't know and understand the dynamics there and what goes on and why that happens and how it happens, he's not qualified, in my opinion, to be a candidate for something like that."

Two large newspapers in Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star, both ran editorials weighing in on the matter, though neither called for him to withdraw.

"The phrase 'legitimate rape' is no better or worse than 'forcible rape,' " the Post-Dispatch said. "They are sexist terms used to distinguish between such things as an attack from a stranger and date rape. This is language used to disguise the types of sentiments that were once OK to express -- such as suggesting that a woman who was raped after being dressed in provocative clothing was 'asking for it.'

"Whether Missouri Republicans stick with Mr. Akin or toss him aside, they're stuck with a problem of their own making. A legitimate problem."

The Star said it abhorred Akin's comments but, noting the outcry for him to step aside, said:

"We will not add our voice. Traditionally, we favor letting democratically elected candidates rise or wither on their own merits. In the absence of financial or criminal malfeasance, the voters' decision determines the contest. The crime of intemperate remarks doesn't necessarily win a do-over or the chance for the party to choose a stronger contender."

Top Republican officials have indicated that Akin should give up the Senate race.

Under Missouri law, Akin would require a court order to do so if he waits beyond the 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday.

Gene Wood, a Republican who supported Akin in the past, said he plans to do so again -- gaffe or no gaffe.

"It strikes me that this is a tempest in a teapot," he said. "I think he used a word that in reflection he wouldn't use again, like the word 'legitimate.' Forcible. But this is just a matter of semantics.