CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Bolstered by thousands of small individual donations, embattled Republican Congressman Todd Akin planned to reaffirm his commitment to his U.S. Senate campaign Friday while re-emerging publicly in Missouri for the time since making inflammatory remarks about rape and pregnancy.
Akin scheduled a 4:15 p.m. press conference in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield. He also sent donors a new fundraising appeal setting a goal of increasing his online contributions to $212,000 by the end of the day. Akin is battling to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the November election.
"Your recent support gave me the courage I needed to fight on, thank you for standing with me, and supporting my campaign to defeat Claire McCaskill," Akin said in the fundraising message.
Campaign spokesman Ryan Hite confirmed that Akin was forging ahead with his campaign, just as the six-term congressman has insisted he would do despite calls from top Republicans for him to drop out of the race.
After winning the GOP primary in August, Akin had gained quick backing from national Republican and conservative groups focused on ousting McCaskill. But that support withered after Akin was asked in an interview that aired Sunday on a St. Louis television station whether his general opposition to abortion extended to women who have been raped.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said of a woman becoming pregnant from rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
The chairman of the Republican National Committee urged Akin to quit the Senate race, as did presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, his vice presidential pick Paul Ryan and every living Republican who has represented Missouri in the Senate.
Akin apologized repeatedly on national radio and TV shows while acknowledging his original remarks were wrong. He also has been running a 30-second apology ad on TV stations across the state.
But until Friday, Akin has remained largely out of sight in Missouri. He went to Ohio to film his apology ad at the office of his media strategist. Then he went to Florida, where he met with fellow conservatives who had gathered in advance of the Republican National Convention.