By DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rep. Todd Akin defied the nation's top Republicans and refused to abandon a Senate bid that has been hobbled by fallout over his comments that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape."
Akin took his message to network TV morning shows and conservative talk radio shows, declaring GOP leaders were overreacting by insisting he abandon his quest to unseat Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and to social media with appeals for donations on his Twitter feed claiming "liberal elites" are trying to push him out of the race.
"I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day, and all of a sudden, overnight, everybody decides, 'Well, Akin can't possibly win,'" he said on a national radio show Tuesday hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "Well, I don't agree with that."
Akin predicted he would bounce back from the political crisis threatening his campaign, including a call from presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney to leave the race, and capture a seat that is pivotal to Republican hopes of regaining control of the Senate.
He confirmed that Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also called to ask him to drop out. But Akin reiterated his decision to stand his ground, saying he refused to be bullied.
"It's not right for party bosses to override" the voters of Missouri, Akin said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday. He said he told Ryan that he was thinking things over and that he wants to "do what's right," but that he's not abandoning his race
Nonetheless, he said he would comply with Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus's request that he not attend the convention, which starts Monday.
But his bid faces tall obstacles — chief among them a lack of money and party support.
In a potential sign of his strategy, Akin appealed Tuesday to Christian evangelicals, anti-abortion activists and anti-establishment Republicans. He said he remains the best messenger to highlight respect for life and liberty that he contends are crumbling under the policies of President Barack Obama.
In addition, he solicited donations on his website and twitter account late Tuesday claiming in several messages that it was the "liberal elite," not establishment Republicans, trying to push him out of the race.
If he stays on the ballot, Akin will have to rebuild without any money from the national party and with new misgivings among rank-and-file Republican voters who just two weeks ago propelled him to a comfortable victory in a hotly contested three-way primary.
"I'm in this race for the long haul, and we're going to win it," he told radio host Dana Loesch in St. Louis.
Akin appealed to evangelicals directly during his interview with Huckabee, making allusions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and focusing on the idea he had only misplaced a single word during a Sunday interview with St. Louis television station KTVI.
But Akin has been roundly criticized both for using the words "legitimate rape" and saying a woman's body has the ability to prevent conception after such an attack.
Hours earlier, Akin posted an online video in which he apologized again for his remarks. Campaign spokesman Ryan Hite said the apology was intended to cover the reference to "legitimate rape" and Akin's assertion that rape victims have a natural defense against pregnancy. The video will run as a 30-second ad on TV stations statewide for several days, Hite said.
Tuesday was the final day in which Akin could withdraw from the race without a court order. As the 5 p.m. deadline to withdraw neared, Republican leaders intensified their pressure on Akin to exit.
Sen. Roy Blunt issued a joint statement Tuesday with all four of Missouri's living former Republican senators — John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, Jim Talent and John Danforth — saying "it serves the national interest" for Akin to step aside.