U.S. Rep. Todd Akin called a news conference Friday to reinforce what he's been saying for the last week: He's still in the race for the U.S. Senate.
And Akin said he'll be in it all the way through Election Day.
"Apparently, there are some people who are having trouble understanding our message," Akin said at a brief St. Louis news conference. "I'd like to be clear on that today. We're going to be here through the November election, and we're going to be here to win."
Akin's remarks were the first he has made to Missouri reporters since Sunday's TV interview in which he said women possess a biological ability to ward off pregnancy after "legitimate" rapes. That comment triggered nationwide controversy, denunciations and calls from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans for Akin to drop out of the race.
The congressman said he called the news conference to end speculation that has circulated around the state in recent days that deals were in the works calling for him to withdraw from the Senate race and seek re-election to the 2nd Congressional District seat he has held for 12 years.
"There may be some negotiations," Akin said. "But they don't include me."
Akin, 65, limited reporters to just a handful of questions and kept his answers brief. Asked how intense the pressure to drop out of the race has been in the past few days, Akin said: "We just try to stick with what's the right thing to do. That's pretty much the way we've looked at it. We've been busy."
He said the key to his thinking is standing up for principle and not politics.
"And I think that maybe America has gotten into trouble because we paid too much attention to politics and not enough attention to principle."
Akin said he would campaign as he has in the past.
"Campaigning is campaigning," he said.
A couple of times he contrasted himself to his Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, saying the America he represents is an America that "has more freedom and more jobs" and smaller government.
"The America that Claire McCaskill has given us is an America that has less freedom, less jobs, more big government, more taxes and the same stalled economy we've observed for the last three-plus years," Akin said.
Just before Akin's news conference, McCaskill visited a VFW hall in Parkville, where she said the contrast with Akin is dramatic.
"Todd Akin's views on many subjects are outside the mainstream, and we want to focus on all of those because many of them are very important to Missouri families," she said. "And while he is a pleasant and sincere man, his views are not pleasant for most Missouri families. And that's what I want to focus on."