Newt Gingrich urges Republicans to get behind Todd Akin

Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich urged his party on Monday to back Todd Akin, the Senate candidate from Missouri who has been mostly forsaken by the GOP following comments about “legitimate rape” last month.

“This is a winnable race,” Gingrich said while campaigning with Akin in Kirkwood, Mo. “Republicans nationally have to decide if they want to keep [Nevada Democrat] Harry Reid as majority leader in the Senate or work to elect Todd Akin.”

By Gingrich’s standard, Republicans appear to be picking Reid over Akin. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has called for Akin, a member of the House of Representatives, to drop out of the Senate race, and the Republican National Committee has cut off funding to Akin’s campaign.

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“We’re not going to play in Missouri with Todd Akin, I can tell you that,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

But Akin said again on Monday—one day before the deadline to take his name off the ballot --that he will not bow out.

“For about the hundredth time or so, I am in this race,” Akin said at a news conference in Kirkwood. “The people of Missouri chose me to do a job.”

As Gingrich suggested, a win by Akin against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill could help Republicans seize a majority in the Senate. And despite Akin’s statement that the female body can prevent a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” he remains within a few points of McCaskill, according to recent polls.