Although he was roundly criticized by party leadership for his “legitimate rape” comments, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin — whose strong poll numbers have surprised many in the GOP establishment — says he's ready to work with his fellow Republicans if elected to the Senate.
“Let me make it clear: I would do absolutely everything in my power to work with [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s] team and the team that is going to try to put our economy and America back on track,” Akin told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Wednesday.
“I’m fully behind him and I am fully behind our great team of [Paul] Ryan, who I worked with in the House of Representatives, and the entire Republican platform,” he added. “It is fine. I’m on board with all of that.”
Akin — who has surprised many in his own party by pulling back even in polls against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill — said he believes he’ll win, despite calls from McConnell, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, political strategist Karl Rove, and other top party leaders to withdraw from the race.
Akin even invited them to get back on board his “bandwagon,” saying he holds no grudges. “I am pretty much a person that forgives someone when I am asked,” he said.
Asked again by Cavuto about his views on abortion and his Aug. 19 comment that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy, Akin reiterated his strong opposition to abortion, suggesting no exceptions should be made because he believes “life starts at conception.”
“I believe life starts at conception, and I don’t apologize for that,” he said, adding: “That is the same platform as we have in the Republican Party.”
Akin, who dropped 10 points in the polls following his rape comment, attributed his climb back up to “a tremendous grass-roots level of support, not just in Missouri but across the whole nation” from people who do not believe “party bosses” should be allowed to force a candidate out of a race.
“I think a whole lot of people are coming down on the side of an election is an election, and we do not want to set the precedent that party bosses pick someone,” he said. “From that point of view, the support has been very strong. We get around the state and people are shaking hands and saying: ‘Stay in there, be strong, you are going to win it.’”
Akin said voters are also drawn to his campaign because his conservative views offer a striking contrast to those of McCaskill.
He pointed to Obamacare as an example, noting that he voted to repeal it 30 times and that “71 percent of people in Missouri voted no” on it in polls. But he said McCaskill was “the deciding vote” to pass it.
“That is why this race is really going to be based on her voting record and that is why money is not the whole thing,” Akin said. “It is about, how has she voted? In the state of Missouri, I have an ‘A’ from the National Rifle Association and she has an ‘F,’ and that is a big deal in our state.
“And of course the economy and jobs are in the tank,” he added. “People understand $16 trillion [in debt] that our grandchildren will have to pay. This is a big deal.”
Both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Karl Rove’s super PAC Crossroads GPS have pulled all funding from Akin’s race, which had been considered an easy pickup for Republicans hoping to retake control of the Senate this year.
Asked how he was able to stay in the race without that support, Akin said his campaign was managing to live off “small contributions, but lots and lots of them.”
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