TAMPA, Fla. -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Tuesday that Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is unlikely to be elected to the Senate if he remains in the race, but stopped short of calling on him to drop out.
"He's got to seriously decide what's in the best interest of the party, what's in the best interest of the state of Missouri, and frankly, at this point, given that flat wrong statement, whether he can win," McDonnell told The Huffington Post.
"I think there was a belief a month ago, when it was just he and [incumbent Sen. Claire] McCaskill head to head after he got the nomination, that it would be a hard-fought competitive race, with Romney at the top of the ticket and up double digits, that this would be a race that would be winnable for the Republicans," McDonnell said. "To say things that seemed to be so flat wrong and out of touch with both science and the people, I think it makes it very difficult at this point for him to win."
Numerous Republicans, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, have called on Akin to get out of the race, in the wake of comments he made Sunday about how victimes of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. But McDonnell, a typically cautious politician who is chairing the RNC's platform committee meeting Tuesday, stopped short of doing so.
"This is ultimately an issue for the people of Missouri," McDonnell said. "As a Virginian, I'm generally not in the habit of telling people from other states what they should and shouldn't do. But on the surface, these statements are so bad and so inflammatory and so inaccurate when it comes to science that it certainly calls into question his ability to win."
Akin must decide by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday whether he will drop out and allow the Missouri Republican party to nominate a replacement candidate. After that deadline, a court order will be necessary.
UPDATE: 1:55 p.m. -- The RNC platform committee on Tuesday approved language expressing the party's official position as opposing abortion in all cases, even in the case of rape or incest. That has long been the party's position. It is also the same position Akin was trying to defend when he target="_hplink">made a comment Sunday about "legitimate rape," and it the same position that Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has long held.
Romney's position is that exceptions should be made in the case of rape or incest, and Ryan has said he is deferring to that position given his spot on the ticket.