Facing a fury of calls from his own party to drop out of the Missouri Senate race—and a 5 p.m. (CT) deadline to do so—embattled Republican Rep. Todd Akin released a new campaign ad early Tuesday apologizing for his comments about "legitimate rape" and asking for forgiveness.
"Rape is an evil act," Akin says in the 30-second ad. "I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."
On Monday, Republican leaders called for Akin to abandon his campaign against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, and Mitt Romney condemned the "legitimate rape" remarks.
"Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
[Related: Will Todd Akin drop out of Senate race?]
Akin then canceled a scheduled interview with CNN's Piers Morgan. Still, Morgan proceeded to open his primetime show with a shot of Akin's empty chair, calling the embattled Republican Senate candidate a "gutless little twerp" for canceling the sit-down.
"Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it," Morgan said. "Because if you don't keep your promise to appear on the show, then you are, what we would call in Britain, a gutless little twerp."
Earlier Monday, several news outlets—including BuzzFeed—reported that Akin would withdraw from the race before Tuesday's deadline.
[Also read: Obama on Akin: 'Rape is rape']
In an interview on Mike Huckabee's radio show, Akin apologized for his "legitimate rape" comments but said he wouldn't drop out of the race. "I'm not a quitter," he said.
Following the Huckabee interview, Akin tweeted: "I am in this race to win. We need a conservative Senate."
Akin's new campaign ad hits the airwaves a day after the powerful conservative super PAC Crossroads GPS announced it was pulling its advertising money from the Missouri Senate race amid the political firestorm Akin's comments created.
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy after rape] is really rare," Akin told St. Louis' KTVI-TV Fox affiliate in an interview broadcast on Sunday. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin said that even if a rape victim does somehow become pregnant, "there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."