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Akin not exiting race despite 'legit rape' comment

WASHINGTON -- Republican Todd Akin said Tuesday he would not drop out of his U.S. Senate race, despite sparking outrage last month when he declared a woman's body can prevent conception in cases of “legitimate rape.”

“I have one purpose going into November, and that's replacing Claire McCaskill,” the Democratic senator from Missouri, Akin told a press conference in the Midwestern state.

Akin faced an avalanche of condemnation from politicians on both sides of the aisle in August, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, when he said that “if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Amid the shock over the comments, Akin apologized. But he failed to reconcile with Republican leaders who had requested, in vain, for him to withdraw from the race before the Tuesday deadline.

By refusing to drop out, Akin puts pressure on fellow Republicans to back him as they seek to wrest control of the 100-member Senate from the Democrats in what are expected to be narrow congressional elections on Nov. 6.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who challenged Romney for the Republican nomination until dropping out earlier this year, argued Monday that any Republican was better than a Democrat in the seat in question.

“I don't see how any national Republican in good conscience after tomorrow has any choice except to” support Akin, Gingrich said at an Akin fundraiser in Missouri, according to Politico magazine.

“And I expect all of them will be in by mid-October.”

A survey conducted in late August by a local newspaper had Akin behind his Democratic opponent 50-41 percent, but a second poll conducted a week later had them neck and neck.

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