Akin's stubborn streak led to earlier clashes with GOP leaders

During that debate Republicans used every tactic at their disposal to get reluctant conservatives on board with the plan. Many buckled after repeated promises and threats — but not Akin.

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Bush called Akin, who'd voted for earlier versions of the bill, twice in one day during a marathon session in the House, in which leadership whips guarded the House doors to make sure no Republican 'no' votes could escape.

Despite Bush's entreaties Akin held fast, explaining his concerns about the bill's cost.

"I'm sorry, Mr. President — it's a vote of conscience," he told Bush at the time.

A testy Bush shot back: "Are you saying I don't have a conscience?"

The two talked later that day as well, but to no avail.

He also rebuffed Hastert despite repeated pleas during the late-night, hours-long session.

Akin told The Hill at the time that the Speaker, "with almost tears in his eyes, said, 'Todd, I need your vote.' "

"Denny is like a brother to me," Akin said, "but I had to tell him no."

While ignoring party leaders to vote against a controversial program is not the same as a refusal to drop out of a race after a controversial comment, the incident displays Akin's unwillingness to bend to the will of party leaders — or even pleas from good friends. If he eventually decides to drop his Senate bid, the choice is unlikely to be because of outside pressures.