Updated 2 p.m. | Rep. Todd Akin said he is staying in the Missouri Senate race despite the national firestorm sparked by his controversial comments about rape and calls from the Republican Party establishment in his own state for him to step aside.
"We are going to continue with this race," the GOP Congressman told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in a radio interview this afternoon.
Akin's decision comes as Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt issued a joint statement with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Sens. Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent — all Republicans from Missouri — calling on Akin to drop out of the race.
The move from the Show-Me State's most powerful Republicans comes just hours before a 5 p.m. deadline for Akin to step aside after claiming on local television that "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy.
“We do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race. The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside," the prominent Missourians said in a statement.
A Republican source said that Blunt has talked privately to Akin multiple times over the last few days, urging him to drop out of the race.
Akin has been under immense pressure from national Republicans to drop his bid, with the National Senatorial Republican Committee threatening to drop its $5 million ad reservation for the fall if Akin does not drop out. A Sept. 19 fundraiser that had been planned for Akin has lost its key Senate attendees, including NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Blunt, among handfuls of others, according to a GOP source.