May 18, 2013 | 06:00 PM (BD Time)
18 May, 2013 Saturday
Mitt Romney joins calls for US candidate to quit race
. BBC Online
US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called on embattled congressman Todd Akin to withdraw from the race for a Senate seat in Missouri.
Akin has sparked uproar by claiming women's bodies could prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape".
He is defying intense pressure from his own party to leave the race, accusing people of over-reacting.
Correspondents say Republicans fear the backlash could sink their bid to win control of the US Senate in November.
Romney said on Monday Akin's remarks were "offensive and wrong", but he had stopped short of urging him to drop out at that point.
But on Tuesday, Romney said: "Yesterday, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."
'Taking a stand'
Senator Roy Blunt and four former senators from Missouri said earlier in a joint statement that Akin's candidacy did not serve the national interest.
On conservative radio host Mike Huckabee's show, Akin again refused to quit the race.
He described the response to his comments as a "little bit of an over-reaction", saying he had mistaken "one word in one sentence on one day".
"By taking this stand, this is going to strengthen our country," the sixth-term lawmaker said. "I hadn't done anything morally or ethically wrong, as sometimes people in politics do."
Last week Akin had a comfortable lead in opinion polls over incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in the Midwestern state of Missouri, which has leaned increasingly conservative in recent years.
Then on Sunday, he was asked by a local news station if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.
The 65-year-old lawmaker replied: "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said Akin's claim "contradicts basic biological truths".
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