Tuesday morning, with a 5 p.m. deadline looming for stepping aside without having to seek a court order, Akin released a new campaign commercial called “Forgiveness.”
“Rape is an evil act,” he says in the 30-second ad. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.”
According to reports, the spot is part of a $150,000 ad buy set to run through Aug. 27, suggesting that Akin has dug in his heels, at least for now.
If Akin decides to withdraw, Republicans can select a replacement. But if he remains a candidate, he would have until Sept. 25 to petition a court to be removed from the ballot if he changed his mind.
After Sept. 25, Missouri candidate names remain on the ballot, even in the event of death.
GOP leaders have been putting heavy pressure on Akin to leave the race, with Romney earlier calling Akin’s comments “insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong.”
“His comments about rape were deeply offensive. I can’t defend what he said; I can’t defend him,” Romney said on a interview with WMUR on Monday. “The thing he should consider is what’s in the best interest of the things he believes most deeply. What will help the country at this critical time.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) tweeted Tuesday: “I agree with @JohnCornyn for cutting off $. Akin should step aside now.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sens. John Cornyn (Tex.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) have also asked Akin to step aside, as has Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement Tuesday saying that they continued to hope that Akin bows out, noting that McCaskill has not called for him to quit.
“This is undoubtedly a difficult time for Congressman Akin, but the stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual,” said Brian Walsh, NRSC spokesman, in a statement. “By staying in this race, Congressman Akin is putting at great risk many of the issues that he and others in the Republican Party are fighting for, including the repeal of ObamaCare.”
The controversy has become a distraction to Republican leaders as they prepare for their Tampa convention next week and finalize the party’s platform, which will include language supporting a ban on abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger, as first reported by CNN.