Congressman Todd Akin defies GOP request

By David A. Lieb

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 22 2012 12:21 a.m. MDT

The campaign arm of the Senate Republicans has already withdrawn $5 million in advertising planned for the Missouri race. The Karl Rove-backed Crossroads organization pulled its ads, too. A fundraiser planned in Washington for next month was called off after all of the dozen GOP senators who had agreed to participate pulled out.

Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law suggested Tuesday that Akin was potentially helping Democrats retain their Senate majority by remaining in the race.

"The stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. By staying in the race, Akin "is putting at great risk many of the issues that he and others in the Republican Party are fighting for."

Without that financial backing, Akin will need the support of social conservatives, who have formed his political base through a 12-year congressional career.

Noreen McCann, who lives in the same suburban St. Louis area as Akin, said Tuesday that his rape comment hasn't weakened her support for him. McCann expressed frustration that Akin was being publicly flayed for his ill-chosen words while other Democrats — specifically President Bill Clinton — have survived scandals that included accusations of sexual impropriety and lies.

Akin "is a man of principle. I trust and respect his integrity and his commitment to defending American values," said McCann, who had passed out Akin fliers on primary election day. "I think he wants to defend all innocent human life. If he misspoke, or it was in the wrong context, that is not a major problem for me."

But other Missouri Republicans are second-guessing their support for Akin.

Steven and Carolyn Sipes, a pair of retired public school teachers who are GOP committee members in southwest Missouri's Christian County, both voted for Akin in the primary. Carolyn is now doing some soul-searching prayer about whether Akin remains the best choice. Her husband believes Republicans will have a better shot of unseating McCaskill without Akin.

"If he decides to stay in, I'll back him to the hilt," Steven Sipes said. But "I think it would be better probably if he did drop out at this point. He's getting a lot of negative publicity."

Akin's campaign released an open letter Tuesday from Jack Willke, former president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee, stating he was "outraged at how quickly Republican leaders have deserted" Akin.

Akin "remains a strong and courageous pro-life leader — and awkward wording in one sound bite doesn't negate that," Willke's statement said.

Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis and Henry C. Jackson in Washington contributed to this report.

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