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Deadline passed, Akin says he's staying in Missouri Senate race

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who launched a firestorm of controversy after his use of the phrase "legitimate rape" and then ignited further criticism with his comments Tuesday, has said he's going to stay in the race. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Updated 6:12 p.m. - Rep. Todd Akin (R) did not step aside as the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, allowing a key preliminary deadline to end his candidacy to come and go.

Akin, who's faced growing clamor from fellow Republicans to end his candidacy amid an uproar over his weekend comments about rape, said he believes it is important for him to press forward with his campaign against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"I want to make one thing absolutely clear: we are going to continue with this race," Akin said on the radio show of Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Senate candidate.

Congressman Todd Akin may not drop his Senate bid today, but NBC's Domenico Montanaro reports his real deadline is likely Sept. 25, the date that he would be locked into the ballot. Today is the last day he can drop out of the Missouri Senate race without having to pay ballot costs.

"I've had a chance now to run through a primary. And the party people said that when you run through a primary, we'll be with you."

Akin had until 5 p.m. CST today to resign his Senate nomination without facing any procedural difficulties. He could still withdraw by Sept. 25, though he would have to petition a court to remove his name from the ballot, and have to pay costs associated with reprinting the ballots.

National Republicans have undertaken efforts to force the six-term congressman from the race. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has canceled its advertising reservations, and a pro-Republican super PAC has said it no longer plans to invest in the campaign, either. Top Republican senators have also canceled a planned fundraiser for Akin on Sept. 19.

Akin said he'd seen an influx of small-dollar donations since the initial uproar emerged on Sunday, and he said he'd received supportive calls from other colleagues in Congress, though he did not say who.

More significantly, national Republicans have begun openly agitating for Akin's ouster. Missouri's past five Republican senators released a joint statement today saying "the right decision is to step aside."

Orlin Wagner / AP

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., talks with reporters while attending the Governor's Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo.

Akin's controversy stems from comments he made last weekend on "The Jaco Report" on KTVI FOX 2 News, on which he said "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy in victims. Akin has since apologized, and said he was mistaken to assert that rape culdn't result in pregnancy. He released a television ad to that effect this morning.

Republicans had high hopes of beating McCaskill before Akin made his comments over the weekend. But the congressman's persistence in the race could jeopardize the GOP's chances in this key race, which provides one of their best opportunities to achieve the net gain of four seats Republicans need this fall to take control of the Senate in the next Congress.