JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Republican Rep. Todd Akin reaffirmed his opposition to abortion for women who have been raped as he pressed forward with his Missouri Senate campaign Monday, a week after his remarks about rape and pregnancy caused a political uproar.
Akin, who appeared Monday on talk radio stations in Kansas City and St. Louis, hasn’t held any public events interacting with prospective voters since his campaign was shaken Aug. 19 by his remarks that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” But his new radio interviews are another step toward a gradual re-entry into regular campaigning that could culminate with public events by the end of the week.
The six-term congressman from St. Louis has repeatedly apologized for his remarks while rejecting calls from top Republicans to drop his challenge of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. That would allow a Missouri GOP committee to pick a replacement candidate for the November election.
The firestorm surrounding Akin began after he was asked in an interview with St. Louis television station KTVI whether abortion should be legal in cases of rape.
He responded: “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.”
On Monday, Akin was given a fresh shot during an interview on Kansas City radio station KCMO to explain why he opposes abortion for women who have been raped.
“Rape is a tragedy, and I don’t think it helps the first tragedy to add a second tragedy to it,” Akin said.
In answering a similar question on KMOX radio in St. Louis, Akin repeated his desire not to compound one tragedy with another, adding: “I’ve been consistently pro-life, and I don’t apologize for being pro-life.”
McCaskill quickly denounced Akin’s original remarks last week. But she has defended his right to remain in the race and since then has not highlighted Akin’s statements about abortion as she campaigns around the state. On Monday, she focused during campaign stops on her efforts to prevent the closure of rural U.S. post offices.
Akin lost advertising support from the political arm of Senate Republicans and a deep-pocketed conservative interest group after his original remarks. He has tried to counter that with an online fundraising appeal to social conservative and anti-establishment Republicans that has highlighted his continued backing from former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Harold Hendrick, a Christian radio show host who has helped compile a list of Akin’s endorsements, said almost all of the 100-some pastors and religious leaders who had endorsed him before the primary continue to support him, and several more have added their names to the list since the controversy over Akin’s statements.
“We’ve got a good man here who made a mistake in his wording and the whole country is beating up on him,” Hendrick said Monday.
Other groups are still considering whether to stand by Akin.
The Missouri Farm Bureau’s political action committee, which endorsed Akin after he won the Aug. 7 Republican primary, sent a questionnaire last week to its county affiliates asking whether they wanted to reconsider that endorsement. Those local Farm Bureau entities faced a Monday deadline to respond, but a spokesman said the results of that survey would not be ready to be released Monday.