JEFFERSON CITY — On a day when top Republicans hoped he would quit Missouri's Senate race, Todd Akin instead planned to rev up his campaign Tuesday with a statewide bus tour, hoping that donors displeased by his much-criticized remarks about rape would reopen their checkbooks.
The Republican congressman is attempting to capitalize on Tuesday's deadline for Missouri candidates to get a court order and submit it to the secretary of state's office if they want to withdraw from the Nov. 6 election. Akin says he has no plans to do so.
"For the about 100th time or so, I am in this race," Akin reassured reporters while appearing in Kirkwood for a fundraiser Monday with former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. "We are going to be totally focused on winning that seat from Claire McCaskill."
McCaskill, a Democrat seeking her second Senate term, also wants Akin to remain in the race. She and Akin both present it as a contest of sharp contrasts on such issues as health care, taxes and the role of the federal government. Missouri's race had been viewed as one of several key contests nationally if Republicans were to gain the four seats necessary to win control of the Senate from Democrats.
But top Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, urged Akin to drop out of the race after a TV interview aired Aug. 19 in which Akin was asked whether his opposition to abortion extends to instances of rape.
Akin said: "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin has since apologized repeatedly and said his remark was wrong. But he has strained to replenish his finances. The Republican National Committee, the GOP's Senate campaign arm and the Crossroads group affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove all ended their involvement in Missouri, pulling millions of dollars of planned advertising.
Akin has countered with an online fundraising appeal featuring an anti-establishment flare.
"To stay competitive, we need to hit $750,000 raised online by Saturday, midnight," Akin wrote in a fundraising email Monday while referring to the cutoff for the next quarterly financial reporting period. "We are close to that mark. The next round of campaign finance reports will be a critical measure of our strength heading into the home stretch."
McCaskill's campaign portrayed Akin as willing to say anything — even changing his position on spending earmarks — to gain additional cash. A conservative fundraising group that opposes earmarks is considering whether to aid Akin, who has used earmarks in the past but has recently expressed a willingness to support some sort of earmark bank.
On Monday, McCaskill's campaign released an audio recording of an event in May — taped by a Democratic staffer — in which Akin responded to a question about how best to get in touch with a congressman. In the recording, Akin can be heard noting that he was in a three-way Republican primary and that he remembers people who write him checks.
"In Todd Akin's Missouri, the wealthy and well-connected can pay to play, but Missouri's working families are simply on their own," said McCaskill campaign spokesman Erik Dorey.
Akin's campaign dismissed the accusation as an attempt to divert coverage away from McCaskill's positions on issues.
"Claire McCaskill is continuing to try and make this race about what Todd Akin has said rather than what she has done for the last six years," said Akin spokesman Ryan Hite.