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Republican Representative Todd Akin’s assertion that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy “opened the window to his views for Missourians,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said today.
Speaking at a debate with Akin in Columbia, Missouri, McCaskill said his Aug. 19 remarks “say a lot about how he views things,” noting that she supports providing access to emergency contraception for rape victims and Akin doesn’t.
“That’s where Missourians should pay attention,” McCaskill said.
Akin downplayed the significance of his remarks, saying the election is “not about words.” He has apologized for the comments he made in a television interview and vowed to stay in the race to unseat McCaskill, who is finishing her first term in the Senate.
“It’s about two different voting records that are the exact opposite,” he said. “I don’t believe that this election overall is about talk. It’s really about two visions of what America is.”
Akin’s comments have reshaped the Missouri Senate race. Republicans had been counting on McCaskill’s seat as one of four they must pick up to win control of the Senate in the Nov. 6 election.
The remark prompted calls from party leaders, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, for Akin to leave the race. Romney called the comments about rape “outrageous.”
Akin has said that he will continue his campaign, though the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group that former George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove helped to create, have said they won’t spend money on the contest as long as Akin is the nominee.
“We’re done,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the committee’s chairman, said yesterday. “Candidates matter, and the campaign they run matters. So it’s not purely a matter of money.”
Speaking at an Aug. 30 donor breakfast at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Rove joked that Akin might be “found mysteriously murdered.” Rove later called Akin and apologized.
Following Akin’s comments, McCaskill has led in a pair of statewide polls. Earlier in the year she consistently trailed Akin.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Mason-Dixon poll conducted Aug. 22-23 showed McCaskill with a nine-percentage-point lead. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted Aug. 28-29 showed the race essentially tied, with Akin trailing McCaskill by one percentage point.
Under Missouri law, candidates have until Sept. 25 to leave a race with a judge’s permission. Akin had until Aug. 21 to withdraw from the race without needing a court order.
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