Entries in Claire McCaskill (6)


Claire McCaskill Wins Missouri Senate Race

Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images | Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- ABC News projects that Sen. Claire McCaskill has won her re-election race, as Republicans have seen another prime pickup opportunity slip away in 2012.

The Missouri senator scored her first victory of the race when Todd Akin won a three-way primary.  Among the GOP field, Akin polled the worst against McCaskill in potential general-election matchups.  Seeing an opportunity, McCaskill aired TV ads in the state that purported to attack Akin, but lauded his conservative credentials in a not-so-subtle attempt to bolster him in the primary.

McCaskill won her second victory when Akin made his fateful "legitimate rape" comment in August -- the biggest misstep by any candidate in 2012, one that reverberated throughout other Republican races and drew Akin condemnation from the highest levels of his party.

Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn all called on Akin to exit his race.

The incumbent won her third major victory on Sept. 25, when Akin officially weathered the pressure to exit and remained the GOP's candidate -- whether they liked it or not -- with the passage of his withdrawal deadline.

Akin made strides to recover from his big mistake, working to shore up support among social conservatives and telling Missouri voters that he agreed with them on most issues.  But it wasn't enough.

Republicans had eyed Missouri as a prime pickup opportunity from the beginning of the election cycle.  Faced with 23 Democratic Senate seats and only 10 Republican seats up for election, Missouri figured into their expectation of moving a chunk of the Senate into the red column, possibly enough to retake control of the Senate.

But "rape" comments might have proved their undoing in two states.  After Akin made national headlines, Indiana treasurer Richard Mourdock made his own when he suggested pregnancies from rape were something "God intended."

Republicans' problem in Indiana might have more to do with unseating a six-term incumbent, Sen. Dick Lugar, with the tea-partier Mourdock in a primary taking a safe GOP candidate off the board.  But "rape" was the issue in Missouri.

Women voted 56 percent for McCaskill, who won 67 percent of the moderate vote.  Akin's comment clearly helped McCaskill capture the middle: 21 percent of voters said Akin's "rape" comment was the single most important issue for them when they voted, while 40 percent said it was one of several important factors.

Akin made his plea for Missouri voters to forgive and forget.  But in a state that's considered more red than purple, a major misstep has cost Republicans a vital vote in the Upper Chamber.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missouri Senate Race: Akin, McCaskill Square Off in Second Debate

Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images | Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(ST. LOUIS) -- The candidates' agendas were plain in Thursday's Missouri Senate debate: Sen. Claire McCaskill sought to come off as moderate while her challenger, Rep. Todd Akin, sought to tie an Obama friendship bracelet around her wrist.

Their clash at Clayton High School in St. Louis followed the same script their campaign has taken since Akin won his primary, rife with barbs about health care reform, Medicare and the 2009 stimulus bill -- all levied, on both sides, as accusations of hyper-partisanship.

"It's moderate vs. conservative, moderate vs. extreme," McCaskill said during her opening remarks.

"Claire McCaskill was the first to endorse Barack Obama, and she was a strong right hand passing legislation, voting with him 98 percent of the time," Akin said during his.

But aside from those staid themes in this reddening purple state, McCaskill debuted a new attack -- that Akin personally pays women less than men -- and Akin endured a mini-stumble reminiscent of Rick Perry's infamous "oops," while appearing to have recovered publicly from the "legitimate rape" comment that shook his campaign.

McCaskill New Attack

McCaskill debuted a brand new attack line against Akin in the final moments of their debate on Thursday: that as a boss, Akin pays women less than men.

"He supports the boss being able to decide whether you get paid less just because you're a woman," McCaskill said during her closing remarks.  "And if you look at Congressman Akin's office, he's a boss that does that: His women staff make 23.4 percent less than the men in his office."

McCaskill's campaign blasted out a press release as McCaskill said it, citing data from the congressional staff-salary database LegiStorm culled from 2001-2010.

Akin's congressional office said it is not true that Akin pays women less categorically and pointed to the last quarter, in which women in Akin's office made more than men by $3,158 on average over four months, according to LegiStorm data pulled by Akin's office Thursday night.

"I think it's interesting that an auditor would chop off the last several years," said Akin's communications director and district director, Steve Taylor, referencing McCaskill's career as Missouri state auditor before her 2006 election to the Senate.  Taylor called the accounting "somewhat disingenuous."

"If it did occur, it was not a matter of policy, because we see that's not the case now ... There's been no change in policy in the Akin office, there's been no change in environment," Taylor said.  "If you look at what's going on now, that really dispels the notion that there's a policy of paying female workers less."

A Rick Perry Replay?

"We should stop giving money to Libya, to Pakistan, and to one other country," Akin said, trailing off and unable to remember the third.

"Syria," McCaskill interjected.

Well, it wasn't quite a Rick Perry "oops" moment, but Akin's forgetfulness did raise its specter as the two sparred over foreign policy and foreign aid.

RandPAC, a group supporting Sen. Rand Paul, released a TV ad this week attacking McCaskill for voting to send aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.  So neither of them were exactly right.

Akin Asked About 'Rape' Comment, Kind Of

On the hanging topic of his infamous "rape" comment, Akin has gone from abject apologies to comfortable retort.

The word "rape" was not mentioned in any question at the debate, but the candidates were asked what the national press will say about Missouri voters if Akin wins.

"I've had a chance to travel for 18 months, and I've got a pretty good sense of where people are," Akin said.  "My views are pretty much in sync with the voters of this state, and what's more, I've opposed the failed record and the failed policies which have given us the unemployment, the lack of jobs, and other miscellaneous problems such as gasoline prices doubling."

It's unclear if Akin has rebounded in popularity since his rape comment since no pollsters deemed reliable by ABC News have polled potential voters in Missouri.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Todd Akin to Claire McCaskill: You Should Drop Out

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- After days of ignoring Republican pleas to abandon his U.S. Senate campaign in Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin on Thursday received an even more damning message: A new Rasmussen poll shows that Akin, who held a tidy lead before making his controversial comments about rape and pregnancy, is now down 10 percentage points (48-38 percent) to incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Never fazed, the Akin campaign shot back with an unlikely proposal.

“The fact that Claire McCaskill is only polling at 48 percent after 72 hours of constant negative attacks on Todd Akin shows just how weak she is,” Akin spokesman Perry Akin said in a statement.  “If she can’t break 50 percent after a week like this, Democrats should ask Claire to step down.”

McCaskill, whose political career might well have been saved by Akin’s moment of madness, went online to cast doubt on the validity of the survey.

“Rasmussen poll made me laugh out loud,” she tweeted.  “If anyone believes that, I just turned 29.  Sneaky stuff.”

McCaskill then linked to a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel claiming Rasmussen, with its ties to high-powered Republican operatives like Karl Rove, had intentionally stretched the spread in an effort to push Akin out of the race.

The final deadline for Akin to withdraw is Sept. 25.  After that, his name cannot be replaced on the ballot.  But there is no indication he’s even considering it.

On Thursday, he reported on his Facebook page, ”Thousands and thousands of people have stepped up today and helped us raise over $100,000 in donations as small as $3.  The message is loud and clear… the people of Missouri believe they should pick candidates, not party bosses or Washington elites.”

The six-term congressman was also trying to rally another $25,000 in donations by midnight.

Akin began his renewed campaign push on Twitter Wednesday, asking followers to “[Retweet] this if you won’t let the liberal elite push you around!” and, “A lot of negativity has been driven my way by the liberal elite.  Makes me even more thankful for your support #stillstanding.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Poll Shows Rep. Todd Akin Still Leads in Missouri Senate Race

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- In spite of the controversy surrounding Missouri Congressman Todd Akin because of remarks he made about women not becoming pregnant after a "legitimate rape," he still leads Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the race for her U.S. Senate seat.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) taken 24 hours after his statements finds Akin leading McCaskill, 44 percent to 43 percent, which might explain the reluctance of the Republican to drop out of the race even after pressure is mounting by GOP leaders for him to do just that.

The survey's results differ little from a PPP survey in May that showed Akin leading the incumbent, 45 percent to 44 percent.

Other state polls that were taken before Akin's statements last week have him with a more comfortable advantage over McCaskill.

While 75 percent of respondents in the latest PPP poll say that Akin's views on rape were inappropriate, the percentage of Republicans who said they will vote for him is virtually unchanged.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


With Paul Ryan as Romney’s Running Mate, Democrats See New Attack Line in Local Races

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate for the presumptive Republican presidential ticket brought an immediate response from President Obama’s re-election campaign, but it could also have a trickle-down effect on several races in the battle for control of the Senate.

Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, has made waves in recent years with controversial budget proposals and his plan to overhaul Medicare.

Democrats have attacked Ryan for several years, especially since he became chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2010 after Republicans won a majority in the House, but now that Ryan is on the likely GOP presidential ticket, the attacks take on a whole new meaning.

Besides the ramifications of Romney’s decision on his own race, there’s also the question of the effect on the Senate races, where Republicans are hoping for a net gain of four seats in order to take back the majority, while also taking the White House and maintaining control of the House.

ABC News has identified six key toss-up Senate races this year: Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, Missouri, Montana and Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. While it’s unclear how Ryan’s presence on the ticket will play out in any of these races, it’s becoming clear that Democrats will be using this latest development as an attack line going forward.


Polling has found the Virginia senate race to be neck and neck, and with the presidential race very tight there as well, both candidates have approached their parties’ nominees with a sense of caution — they’re open in their support, but it’s not always highlighted, and it’s not always unwavering. Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine has highlighted his difference of opinion with Obama on off-shore drilling, for example.

Like many other Democrats, it appears as though the Kaine campaign sees an opportunity to hurt their opponent, former Virginia Sen. George Allen, by tying him to Ryan’s plan. Allen was present at the Romney-Ryan announcement, and Kaine quickly released a statement hitting him for having a fiscal approach that would “gut Medicare resources for millions of American seniors.”

“By standing with Paul Ryan today, George Allen continues to embrace a plan that would force hundreds of thousands of Virginia seniors to pay nearly $6,000 more each year in health care. Budgets are about priorities and George Allen’s approach would gut Medicare resources for millions of American seniors, devastate investments for education and infrastructure that grow our economy, while defending irresponsible tax breaks for the wealthiest that ballooned our deficit and drove up our debt,” Kaine for Virginia spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in a statement.


Missouri is considered to be a safe bet for Republicans in this presidential cycle — Obama is unpopular and polling has consistently found Romney with a strong lead. Recent polls have shown incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in trouble (although Democrats have been buoyed by victory of Rep. Todd Akin in the Republican primary last week, as conventional wisdom suggested he was the easiest candidate for McCaskill to beat) and she’s been the target of attacks from outside groups for a long time.

McCaskill appears to view the Ryan announcement as an opportunity for a new attack line on Akin. Today she tweeted “the part of Ryan-Akin budget I hate the most? Cutting Medicare and then giving those cuts to the mega wealthy. Wrong.” Expect McCaskill, who is frequently described by her colleagues as a fighter, to hit hard with this new messaging.


Republican incumbent Scott Brown has stayed away from Mitt Romney thus far; as a Republican running in a Democratic heavy state, Brown will need at least some Obama voters to cross over and vote for  him. Brown voted no on the Ryan budget in Congress, and he even went so far as to pen an op-ed in Politico explaining his reasoning, so he should in theory be able to withstand any attacks from Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, tying him to the controversial proposal.

“While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan — and therefore will vote ‘no’ on his budget,” Brown wrote in an op-ed in Politico in May 2011.

“Why can’t I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan? First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support — and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays,” he wrote. “Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.”

For now, it appears as though Warren is not attempting to tie her opponent directly to the budget, but reiterate her ties to Obama.

“The choice is clear,” Warren said in a statement. “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will work to make the rich and powerful, richer and more powerful. I’m standing with President Obama to work for our families, to invest in our kids, and to give our small businesses a fighting chance to succeed because I believe that’s how we build a strong foundation for our future.”


Nevada’s economic woes are well documented, and the Romney campaign hopes that said woes will put the state in the Romney column,  and the same hope exists down ballot in the tight senate race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley. Heller voted for the Ryan budget twice — once in the House, once in the Senate — and Berkley’s campaign has already been attacking him for it.

For Berkley, who is under formal investigation from the House Ethics Committee after being accused of using her office to help her husband’s medical practice (she saved a Las Vegas area kidney transplant center, a move that appears to have benefited her husband who is a kidney specialist), the Ryan announcement could be a welcome opportunity to shift the focus. Expect Berkley to continue to charge her opponent with supporting a plan that “would end Medicare as we know it.”


Democrats have already begun to highlight an ad released by Montana Republican Senate candidate Denny Rehberg earlier this year in which the candidate specifically called out Ryan’s budget as potentially harmful to seniors.

“Rehberg refused to support a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare programs so many of Montana’s seniors rely on,” the ad, titled “Montana First,” said.

Shortly after Romney’s announcement, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sent out a press release highlighting that ad, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to play up the comments.


This is of course the state where Ryan’s presence on the ticket is most likely to boost Republican’s chances of winning the senate seat. The Republican candidate is not yet known in this race- the primary will take place Tuesday and a challenger for Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin will emerge from a crowded field. Republicans hope Ryan’s presence on the ticket will boost turnout for Romney in the presidential race and turn the state red for the first time in a presidential election since 1984.

As it’s likely he’ll be campaigning in Wisconsin a lot, Ryan can be expected to hit the stump at least a couple of times for the chosen Republican Senate candidate, and his presence in the race could be the boost Republicans are hoping for across the board.

It’s important to note that the population of residents 65 and over in these states is within a couple percentage points of the national average of 13 percent in each instance, so there is not an obvious state where just in terms of numbers, Ryan’s presence could be a concern.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Karl Rove, Claire McCaskill Spar Days After Rove's Ads Air Against Her

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Republican strategist Karl Rove bumped into each other at the St. Louis Airport Monday afternoon, just 10 days after Rove launched an ad campaign targeting the senator.

“Just gave Karl Rove a wave & friendly hi in St Louis airport. Even tho he's up on TV distorting my record, still wanted to show good manners,” McCaskill, D-Mo., tweeted Monday afternoon.

Rove replied about an hour later, tweeting “Saw @clairecmc @ St Louis airport -- she waved but wasn’t happy. Must be @crossroadsgps ads on her bad votes/broken promises 2 cut spending.”

The ad was part of a $20 million ad buy from Crossroad GPS, a conservative group linked to Rove. The 30-second spot opens with a clip of McCaskill saying, “The debt is a real problem. The deficit is a real problem.”

Then a narrator says, “Oh really senator? You voted for skyrocketing debt, the failed stimulus and Obamacare.”

McCaskill is one of five Democratic senators targeted by the Crossroads GPS ads. The group unveiled Monday that it will target 10 House Democrats in a new buy that totals $1.4 million. The ad aims to negatively impact public perception of Democrats’ stance on the debt and deficit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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