ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Congressman Todd Akin began a fight Wednesday against his toughest opponent yet -- and it's not Senator Claire McCaskill.
Pundits predict his greatest opposition will be convincing wary Missouri voters that he is the right candidate for the job.
All week, Akin said he has no plans to drop out of the race. It would now cost him some money to do so.
He has said in the past that his staunch conservative base is so dedicated they would support him during an earthquake.
Akin will see how true that is now that his once secure political world has crumbled like an earthquake around him.
Akin has apologized repeatedly about his "legitimate rape" comment during a Sunday in a St. Louis TV interview.
On Tuesday, the biggest heavy hitters in his Republican party joined together to tell him step down from the race and even stay away from next week's National Republican Convention.
But Akin's strongest supporters said he has allies.
Harold Hendrick, a conservative radio talk show host in St. Louis, said Akin is not alone."
Hendrick is one of 100 of Missouri's Christian leaders who stood beside Akin and pledged their support in the
"He apologized and we stand by him," he explained.
Akin stood firm during Wednesday's interviews that he is ready to fight for the seat many thought he'd once easily win.
"It's about the voters in the state of Missouri, they've chosen me because of the principals I stand on and putting principle over politics," he said. "I believe they will stand with me on a whole host of issues."
Hendricks said Akin is right.
"We're pained that one sentence fragment should possible destroy him. We think it's not fair," Hendricks said.
On the Today Show, Akin apologized for his controversial comments on rape.
"The people of my state didn't elect someone who was perfect. They knew I wasn't perfect but the idea of standing on principle and trying to do the right thing when you make a mistake you say you're sorry," he said.
Akin has hardly faced opposition in his conservative district in 12 years.
Hendrick, who has also interviewed Akin many times on his radio show, said a few missteps do not change the fact that Akin is still a principled, family man who would vote conservatively on the issues of jobs, economy and health care.
"He is a fine man who has six children, three grads from the US Naval Academy...one was 11th in his class," Hendrick said. "All three boys have been deployed to defend this country...that's the kind of heritage of Todd Akin."
Hendrick said the power of Akin's Missouri grassroots conservative base should not be underestimated.
"I think his changes are great. The way he's handled it, acknowledging he's frail. This could turn out to be (Akin's) finest hour," he explained.
But strategists say that Akin needs friends and donors who have money to win to make up for his deep-pocket supporters pulling their millions of dollars from Missouri in the last couple of days.
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