ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Missouri Congressman Todd Akin refused to bow out of the U.S. Senate race Tuesday. Akin, who won the Republican primary in August, had been urged to step aside after making inflammatory comments regarding rape and pregnancy on the FOX 2 Jaco Report show in August.
To emphasize his commitment to the race, Akin began a statewide bus tour in St. Louis Tuesday afternoon with a rally of religious and conservative leaders at the Renaissance Grand Hotel. He was scheduled to appear in Cape Girardeau and Sikeston Tuesday night.
Akin told a crowd of supporters, " In August I was given a trust , a trust to replace a senator that had not represented Missouri or our best interests."
He added, " I have one purpose going into November and that's replacing Claire McCaskill."
As the deadline to withdraw from the November general election ballot passed, Missouri's Republican party issued a statement saying it will support Akin along with all the other Republican nominees on the ballot.
National Republican organizations and top leaders including presidential candidate Mitt Romney all said Akin should leave the ticket despite his apologies for the rape comment. They remained silent as the deadline passed.
Akin is challenging Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. McCaskill, an early supporter of President Obama in 2008, describes herself as a moderate while GOP critics say she voted with the president 98 percent of the time.
Monday former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted major GOP funding for Akin would return by mid-October. Tuesday, conservative commentator and author Phyllis Schlafly of St. Louis agreed. "Romney needs Missouri and to try to split the ticket like this Romney is going to be the chief loser on that," she said during an Akin rally in downtown St. Louis.
An independent organization that supports conservative candidates with advertising on cable, radio and the web announced its support for Akin. The ads will begin airing Thursday. The Freedom Defense Fund is promising a $250,000 expenditure independent of the Akin campaign. The political action committee describes itself as "dedicated to the protection of liberty from big government advocates of either party." Under federal law the FDF cannot discuss or coordinate its efforts with the nominee's staff.
Akin's campaign welcomed the news. Staff members say their online fund raising effort has already produced $650,000 in contributions. The campaign goal is to reach three quarters of a million dollars by Saturday at midnight and then to go on to one million dollars. That plus evidence in polls that Akin remains close to McCaskill could help restore financial help from national Republican sources.
Akin delivered a speech Tuesday at the rally but took no questions from reporters. He has yet to address an audio tape that's been referenced by the National Journal and the McCaskill campaign in which he answered a question about the public's access to congressmen by saying he remembers those who help him by giving campaign donations or volunteer help.
On Facebook at Betsey Bruce on FOX2
On Twitter Betsey Bruce