Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri recorded a TV ad acknowledging he used "the wrong words in the wrong way" concerning rape and pregnancy.
In the ad, previewed by Politico, Akin said: "Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims.
"The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness," he said.
Akin, who represents Missouri in the U.S. House, is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He has come under heavy criticism from Democrats, women and members of his own party for his comments Sunday when asked if abortion should be legal in the case of rape.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said during the interview with a St. Louis television station. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
He has been urged to drop his candidacy before the no-penalty withdrawal deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Akin has said he will continue his bid against McCaskill and the television ad could be an indication he plans to press forward with his campaign.
The controversy also prompted the National Republican Senatorial Committee to say it would pull the $5 million it planned to spend on the Missouri race unless Akin quits. Karl Rove's conservative political action committee Crossroads GPS said it was withdrawing ads scheduled to start Wednesday in Missouri.
"It's a devastating problem to have that not only are Republicans walking away but the advertising money is, too," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean told Politico. "If you're an army fighting a battle and you've lost your air cover, it's likely you're going to have a hard time winning a war."
Meanwhile, Missouri voters strongly disagree with Akin's comments, but a Public Policy Poll indicates he leads McCaskill 44 percent to 43 percent, showing little movement in the campaign since May.
Seventy-five percent of Missouri voters, including 64 percent of Republicans, said the comments were inappropriate while 9 percent said they thought they were appropriate, results indicated. Seventy-nine percent of voters say they disagree with what Akin said.
Twenty-four percent of voters said they have a favorable opinion of him to 58 percent with a negative one, PPP said.
Results are based on telephone interviewed of 500 likely Missouri voters Aug. 20. The margin of error for the survey is 4.4 percentage points.
Akin also said he used "the wrong words in the wrong way" Monday during a radio interview with Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and onetime GOP presidential hopeful in 2008.
"It's an evil act that's committed by violent predators," Akin told Huckabee.
He also told his host he believes "we're going to take this thing forward ... and, by the grace of God, we're going to win this race. ... To quote my old friend John Paul Jones, 'I've not yet begun to fight.'"
Jones was a Revolutionary War naval fighter on the Colonies' side who made enemies among America's political elite but was highly successful fighting the British at sea.
"I'm not a quitter," Akin said.
Under Missouri law, if a candidate leaves the ballot 11 weeks before Election Day -- Tuesday at 5 p.m. (CDT) -- the Missouri Republican central committee would have two weeks to choose a replacement for the November ballot.
Akin can wait to quit until anytime before Sept. 25 -- six weeks before the election -- but his withdrawal then could be challenged by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, The New York Times said.
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