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Rep. Steve King defends Akin as a 'strong Christian man'

Akin has faced a firestorm of criticism from fellow Republicans, who have ripped his recent comments that women rarely get pregnant from "legitimate rape," with a number of them, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), strongly suggesting Akin should drop out of the race for Missouri's Senate seat. Akin has so far refused to exit the race.

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But King, a close friend and ally of Akin's who campaigned for him during the primary, stood by Akin's side. He told a local television station that he didn't want to give his thoughts on Akin's specific remark because he hadn't heard it in context, but attacked those who were blasting Akin as focused on "petty personal attacks."

"I think this election should be about how did Todd Akin vote and what did he vote for and what did he stand for and in this case, I'm seeing the same thing, petty personal attacks substituting for strong policy," he said.

The Iowa congressman, who supports changing the law so Medicaid won't cover abortions for victims of statutory rape and incest, said he didn't personally know of anyone who'd been in that situation.

"Well, I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I'd be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said.

King, a hard-line conservative who is no stranger to controversial statements himself, faces a tough race in a Republican-leaning northwest Iowa district. His opponent, former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D), has already attacked him for refusing to denounce Akin's comments.

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