Fighting back against enormous pressure by other Republican leaders to withdraw, Akin earlier Tuesday accused his critics of “overreaction” and used a radio interview to turn his campaign into a cause for “the regular people” against “the big party people.”
Akin’s remarks on rape and abortion have incited fury among liberals and conservatives alike. But in the afternoon interview on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, Akin said he would stick to his decision to stay in the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).
“I’ve had a chance now to have run through a primary, and the party people said when you win the primary then we’ll be with you. Well, they were with us. Then I said one word and one sentence on one day, and everything changed,” Akin told Huckabee, an early supporter. “I haven’t done anything morally or ethically wrong. It does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.”
He then went on to liken his decision to a type of crusade. “We believe taking this stand is going to strengthen our country — going to strengthen, ultimately, the Republican Party,” he said. “What we’re doing here is standing on a principle of what America is.”
Akin said that his supporters and “good friends, closer than brothers,” had asked him to stick it out. He added that he has received “continuing calls from other congressmen” expressing their support. (He did not name any of these congressmen.)
He compared his race to the GOP primary, when he was outraised by rivals and lacked institutional backing. And he referred to the potential to attract more independent voters. “I realize that there are now a lot of other bravehearts that don’t fit into the political parties exactly,” he said. “I believe there is a cause here, and there is a part of the message that’s missing, and a lot of the people feel left out of the parties.
“What we’re seeing right now is a tremendous outpouring of support from just regular small people,” he said. “They’re not the big party people.”
Republicans were hoping Akin would heed their calls to withdraw from the race and preserve the party’s chances to take back the upper house. Akin’s interview drew quick rebuke from those ranks, citing potential harm to the party’s election chances.
The conservative super PAC American Crossroads said in a statement that “Rep. Akin faces a simple choice: Will he help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority by staying in the race, or will he help Republicans defeat Barack Obama’s most reliable ally in the Senate by getting out?”