NEW: A Missouri deadline for Rep. Todd Akin to drop of out the race passes
NEW: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan join the chorus of calls asking Akin to withdraw
NEW: Akin defends staying in the race, saying he thinks it will help Romney and Republicans
Missouri senators past and present call on Akin to pull out of the race
Republican Rep. Todd Akin allowed a state deadline to pass Tuesday, defiantly staying in the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill despite mounting calls for him to withdraw over incendiary remarks on rape and pregnancy.
Under Missouri law, Akin would now need to get a court order to pull out of the race as he waited beyond the 5 p.m. deadline. He would also be required to pay for any necessary reprinting of ballots.
But Akin said he has no plans to drop out. He cited what he called a grassroots conservative movement in the country that needs a voice in government for his decision to reject increasing pressure from his own Republican Party, congressional colleagues and others to step aside.
“I’m in this race for the long haul and we’re going to win it,” Akin told conservative radio host Dana Loesch.
He spoke minutes after five past and present Republican senators from Missouri, including highly regarded figures John Danforth and Christopher “Kit” Bond, added their voices to widespread calls for Akin to end his campaign.