Updated at 2:55 pm EDT
Now the choir has spoken.
So has Todd Akin.
Senator Roy Blunt, the Republican junior senator from Missouri, is standing at the front of a line of fellow big-name Missouri Republicans calling for Rep. Akin, the party’s candidate for U.S. Senate, to get out of the race.
“We do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race,” said a written statement issued jointly by Blunt and several others. “The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside.”
The senator was joined by former Senators John Ashcroft, who served as attorney general for former President George W. Bush, Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent. Akin has until the close of business today to withdraw from the race without a judge having to intervene.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is counting on a win in Missouri in his bid to gain party control of the Senate, also called on Akin to quit the race.
“Congressman Akin made a deeply offensive error at a time when his candidacy carries great consequence for the future of our country,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement today. “In his heart of hearts, I’m certain that he is sincerely sorry for what he said but in this instance, when the future of our country is at stake, sorry is not sufficient. To continue serving his country in the honorable way he has served throughout his career, it is time for Congressman Akin to step aside.”
Even American Crossroads, a super-PAC advised by strategist Karl Rove which been airing ads against Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill and has pull the plugged so long as Akin remains in the race, is calling him out:
“Rep. Akin faces a simple choice: Will he help Democrats hold the McCaskill seat and potentially the Senate majority by staying in the race, or will he help Republicans defeat Barack Obama’s most reliable ally in the Senate by getting out?” Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, said in a statement today.
“I’m not a quitter,” Akin has told Fox News’ Mike Huckabee — and he said it again today, telling the former governor of Arkansas and 2008 Republican presidential candidate on his Fox radio program that he is staying in the race.
In a 30-second TV spot today, Akin asked for forgiveness for his statement during at TV interview in St. Louis on Sunday in which he said that rape rarely results from “legitimate rape.”
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” said Akin, who has served in the U.S. House since 2001. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
He later said he had “misspoke” in that interview, and has called it a “a very, very serious error.”
Serious enough that Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s candidate for president, has had this to say about Akin:
“I would not be able to defend him in this race.”