By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Amid growing GOP pressure to quit the Missouri Senate race, Rep. Todd Akin has recorded a new TV ad seeking forgiveness for his controversial comments about "legitimate rape."
"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize," Akin says in the ad. "As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them."
The ad was first reported this morning by Politico. More from Akin's script:
The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.
Akin, a six-term House member, touched off a firestorm Sunday with his comments to a St. Louis TV station saying pregnancy could be prevented in the case of "legitimate rape" because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
His comments have been widely denounced, from President Obama to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The reaction to Akin's rape comments -- and their impact on the battle for power in the U.S. Senate -- dominated the news just a week before Republicans gather in Tampa for their national convention.
Akin won the Senate GOP nomination on Aug. 7 to take on Democrat Claire McCaskill, one of the most vulnerable incumbents in her party. Republicans have high hopes of defeating McCaskill in their bid to claim four seats and control power in the Senate.
But with Akin under fire, party stalwarts are increasing pressure to get him to stand aside by 5 p.m. CT today so that another Republican can take his place on the ballot. If he doesn't withdraw by the Tuesday deadline, then Missouri law says Akin would need a court order to be removed from the ballot and he would have to pay for reprinting of ballots.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will pull $5 million in advertising if Akin stays in. Crossroads GPS, a major GOP super PAC, said it will withdraw from Missouri even though it has already spent millions targeting McCaskill.