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Missouri: Todd Akin Stands Up Piers Morgan

In the most recent chapter of the bizarre saga surrounding embattled Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate GOP nominee ducked out of a prime-time interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, leading the host to dub him “a gutless little twerp.”

Akin had been attempting a restorative media tour today, agreeing to be interviewed earlier by conservatives Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity. But facing pressure from top GOP leaders, as well as from some of the hosts themselves, the Missouri Republican — who said Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy — apparently got cold feet.

“Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it because if you don’t keep your promise to be on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain, a gutless little twerp,” said Morgan, who showed an empty chair throughout his program.

Both the official Twitter account for the show and the program’s executive producer tweeted around 6 p.m. that Akin would be a guest. But by the time the show rolled around, Akin was missing in action.

Interviews earlier in the day had not gone well for Akin, with Hannity telling him live on air that if he stayed in the race he would jeopardize the party’s chances to win the Missouri Senate seat, control of the Senate and the state’s 10 Electoral College votes.

Despite calls from top Republicans to reconsider his candidacy, Akin doubled down on his campaign Monday. He blasted out a fundraising email late in the evening apologizing again to supporters and asking them to open their pocketbooks, in addition to their hearts for forgiveness.

“The people from Missouri who elected me know that I’m not perfect. They don’t make perfect people. We all make mistakes,” the letter read. “When you make a mistake you [sic] to tell people you’re sorry, you don’t try and hide it. I made a mistake and I’m sorry. I have just begun to fight and I’m in this race to the end!

“We must work together to replace [Sen.] Claire McCaskill in the Senate,” the email continued, pleading for $3 donations. “I need your help.”

The National Senatorial Republican Committee has already threatened to abandon its $5 million commitment to the state if Akin stays in the race. The deadline for nominees in Missouri to withdraw their candidacy without penalty is Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Despite the media firestorm and mass Republican deflection from Akin’s bid, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning pollster, announced late tonight that Akin is still leading McCaskill 44 percent to 43 percent. PPP said it would release full results later, but that only 6 percent of Republican women polled intend to vote for McCaskill and that although 75 percent of voters say Akin’s comments were “innappropriate,” most still will vote along party lines.