Defiant Akin says he's staying in race

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) announced on Friday that he will remain in the race for Missouri's Senate seat.

"We're going to be here through the November election and we're going to be here to win," he said.

"There's some people having trouble understanding our message," a defiant Akin said before declaring his intention to stay in the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

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It was his first public appearance since his controversial comments concerning rape made headlines on Sunday.

The lawmaker faced mounting calls to step down from his seat following statements he made that in the case of "legitimate rape," pregnancy is rare because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Republicans nationwide disavowed the comments, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney joined a chorus of Republican leaders to ask him to resign from the nomination.

Akin said Friday that he and his campaign had "been busy" over the past few days, but he wouldn't elaborate on what work he had been doing or with whom he had been meeting to rally support for his continued bid. He insisted that, because he had won the GOP primary, he should stay in the race.

"I may not be the favored candidate of some people within the Republican establishment, but the voters made the decision, and this is an election, it's not a selection," he said.

Akin has long bucked the party establishment, and he reminded reporters that the party didn't support him during his primary run, either.

"We campaign the same as we have in the past. It's pretty straightforward. Campaigning is campaigning," he said.

Akin updated his Facebook cover photo earlier on Friday to a photo that reads "We proved the party bosses wrong. Now, help us defeat Claire McCaskill" — a clear indication that, even when it was uploaded around 3 p.m. Eastern time, he planned to continue his fight.

Republicans have expressed concern that Akin's campaign is now dead in the water and his continued candidacy will ruin the party's chances at what was previously considered a likely win for Republicans. A loss in Missouri could also hurt the party's chances to take the majority in the Senate this year.

The GOP needs a net gain of four Senate seats (if President Obama wins reelection) to take control of the upper chamber. McCaskill was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats this cycle, but Akin's comments changed that perception

A poll from the GOP-leaning Rasmussen had McCaskill up 10 points over Akin on Wednesday.

Akin has repeatedly said that he will remain in the race, fundraising off the situation and refashioning his campaign as a fight against "party bosses," but the National Republican Senatorial Committee pledged to withdraw a $5 million investment in the race, and conservative super-PAC Crossroads GPS said it would no longer be spending in Missouri.

Akin raised more than $200,000 in contributions online since his comments on Sunday, according to CNN, due to a fundraising push that asked supporters to help Akin defeat McCaskill and to "fight back against the party bosses."

He's received the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is a prominent conservative commentator, and multiple reports indicated Akin met with the secretive social-conservative organization the Council for National Policy in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday and Thursday, possibly to discuss funding his bid.

— This post was originally published at 3:36 p.m. and has been updated.