COLUMBIA — The Columbia Pachyderm Club responded with enthusiasm to Rep. Todd Akin's speech at its weekly meeting on Friday.
During the time for questions and comments, several members of the Republican group stood up to commend Akin for staying in the race and pledged their support. And many lines of his speech met with rousing applause.
Akin spoke to the local Republican group about what's been going on with his campaign the past few weeks and what he believes the race is about.
"It seems to be I have parachuted into the middle of a hurricane," Akin said, referring to the reaction to his comments concerning rape last month. But the Pachyderms appeared undeterred by the backlash Akin experienced.
"I wasn't sure whether people would be (supportive) or not," Columbia Pachyderm Club Secretary Betsy Phillips said. "But it's obvious they are."
"I want to thank you for staying in the race," one attendee told Akin. "You're one person I'm voting for, not against someone else," another said.
When asked about the viability of his campaign, Akin responded that he has polled well recently.
"We took an initial hit, but our name identification has jumped," Akin said. "More people are saying 'I'm with you,' and they have a real fire and intensity."
Akin talked about his decision to stay in the Senate race despite calls for Republican Party leadership — including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and National Republican Senate Committee Chairman John Cornyn — suggesting strongly that he bow out.
Akin said that since he clearly won the August primary, he would not bend to the will of "a few people higher up who don't like me."
"We believe in elections, not appointing somebody," Akin said.
Akin said that to him the election is about voting records, not about rhetoric.
"It's not about who says things or who says them cleverly but about their voting records and what they've done to our state," he said.
Akin contrasted his voting record to his opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill's, and said he believes he's in tune with what Missourians really want. He spoke about issues such as health care, the federal stimulus, gun control and abortion.
"Let's take pro-life: I'm pro-life," Akin said. "I have no apologies about being pro-life."
Phillips said that she believes all candidates need a hearing and that the fair-minded would be willing to listen to what he has to say. She wants people to know their candidate; to know who they are voting for and why.
She said she voted for Sarah Steelman in the primary election but now is supporting Akin. She said she doesn't think the race will be easy, but she believes Akin will win.
"I think he's the kind of person we need in public office," she said. "He does what he says he'll do. He's nice but direct."
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.