(CNN) – The nation's largest tea party political action committee, the Tea Party Express, is calling on Rep. Todd Akin to step down as Missouri's Republican nominee for a Senate seat on Monday following controversial comments the congressman made about rape.
Answering a question about whether he thought abortion should be legal in cases of rape, Akin said in an interview Sunday that in instances of "legitimate rape" the female body has ways of stopping a potential pregnancy. Video of the interview was posted online by the liberal super PAC American Bridge.
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Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer said in a statement released Monday that Akin's remarks were "unfortunate and inappropriate."
"It is critical that we defeat Senator Claire McCaskill in November, but it will be too difficult to achieve with Todd Akin as the conservative alternative," said Kremer. "He should step down and give conservatives a chance at taking back the Senate in November."
"One of the lessons we learned in 2010 is that we need candidates who are not only conservative, but are capable of putting together a strong campaign against liberal opponents," said Kremer, calling Akin's comment a 'Bidenism' in an apparent reference to Vice President Joe Biden's recent 'chains' gaffe at a campaign stop in Virginia.
In a radio interview Monday, Akin apologized for the comments.
"I made that statement in error. Let me be clear. Rape is never legitimate. It's an evil act, and it's committed by violent predators," the Republican congressman said on Mike Huckabee's radio show.
The Tea Party Express endorsed Akin's rival, former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, in Missouri's GOP primary. Steelman, who was defeated by Akin in the August 7 contest, also grabbed the coveted conservative endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Notwithstanding calls for the congressman to drop out, Akin is set to go up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November's election.
The Tea Party Express's push for Akin to step down comes in a wave of conservative backlash over the congressman's comments that critics say could jeopardize the Republican effort to gain control of the Senate in November.
Currently, the Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party by a 53-47 margin but they are defending 23 (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) of the 33 seats up for grabs in November.
Tea Party Nation, the group that organized the first National Tea Party Convention in 2010, also urged Akin to step down. The group's founder, Judson Phillips, encouraged the congressman to step aside following what the group calls "amazingly stupid comments about rape."
"Control of the Senate could come down to this race and Todd Akin, whose ego is much bigger than his brain, may cost the Republican's control of the Senate," said Phillips in a press release Monday.
Meanwhile, some socially conservative groups have defended Akin in recent hours. Top officials from the Family Research Council stood by Akin, saying he was simply caught in a "gotcha politics" moment. Furthermore, the Missouri Right to Life, a group with which Akin once served as a board member, came to the congressman's defense.
"Missouri Right to Life supports Congressman Akin's defense of the life of an innocent unborn child conceived by rape. We also support his statement of compassion and support for victims of sexual assault," said Pam Fichter, president of the group's PAC, in a statement.
CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Dana Davidsen and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
Some say that Paul Ryan is in lock step with Akin in his beliefs on (no) women's rights. The Tea Party wants Akin out
so their own candidate can get the nomination. "Take back the Senate" is their only goal, and they know their plans
will continue through Ryan. Ryan has not changed, and will have a huge influence on Romney. They are still
dangerous and lacking in compassion for anyone that gets in their way. Romney is weak, Ryan is radical and the
Tea Party has them tied up in knots. Not a good combination.
►Tea Party Express calls on Akin to step down◄
But the "elements" in the way they THINK would still have Americans frown
at the fact that the ONLY reason why the TP and far-RIGHT maniacs want Akin to leave
is the fact that the attention would be taken away from RYAN who is 100% up AKIN's sleeve!!
Another Etch-A-Sketch Flip-Flop LYING moment coming from the Right – WAKE UP AMERICA!!
Obama/Biden 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!
Isn't Ryan and AKIN tea party DARLINGS
Ryans positions need to be repeated word for word..........inexcusable....women should be outraged
These groups are more concerned with power and control of the Senate than the well being of a rape victim. Never mind that Mr. Akins' comments were morally reprehensible. The right has truly lost its way.
Even the drool spewers are put off by his comments. This makes him officially lower than whale dung.
Wow. When the TeaBagger Express is distancing themselves from you, you know you really, really and I mean REALLY stepped in it.
This guy should be rewarded by the tea party. I always thought they were advocating for this kind of incendiary comment. What happened to the tea party? I am thinking the leadership is advocating this for political reason? I don’t think the tea party leadership will be appreciated by the crowd that chanted “I want my country back”, “I don’t like government provided health care; don’t touch my social security”, “you lie” ‘There are anti-American in the US congress” and of course “women natural survival mechanism of rape” I thought these kinds of absurd things are the treadmark for the tea party.
please read social security rather Medicare
Akin may have suffered from a poor choice of words but there sure are a whole lot of Repubs who are dismayed that thereby he has inadventently shone a powerful strobe light on who they are. Hence the rush to get rid of him!