Sarah Palin endorsed a third-party candidacy against Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., if he persists in his refusal to drop out of the general election campaign after making startling comments about rape and abortion.

“We’ve got to take back the Senate and Missouri is a must-win state,” Palin told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “The way we do that is to have someone like Sarah Steelman be able to run — even if it’s as a third-party candidate  — to be able to run and help us take this back.” Palin endorsed Steelman in the primary, which was regarded as showdown for the privilege of challenging the deeply-unpopular Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The former Alaska governor reiterated her support for a third-party run when considering how conservatives should respond if Akin does not drop out before the state prints the ballots for the general election.

“Maybe it is a third-party run of Sarah Steelman — that I could get behind,” she said. “Granted, ‘the status quo has got to go’ [Steelman's campaign motto] would be an odd name for a third party, but we’ll coin it, we’ll adopt it, we’ll run with it if that’s what it takes in order to get a common sense, constitutional, happens-to-be-pro-life woman in Missouri to clean up this mess that has been created and at the same time take back the Senate.”

On Sunday, Akin said that he does not support abortion in the case of rape, but did so in a way that may have mortally wounded his candidacy. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” Akin said. He released an advertisement asking for forgiveness, in which he explained that he “used the wrong words in the wrong way.”

Palin said that she had not talked to Steelman about a third-party candidacy, but she reiterated throughout the interview her support for such a run if Akin doesn’t step aside. “If he doesn’t do it, then it’s going to be third-party then,” Palin said.