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Entries in Missouri (26)

Wednesday
Nov072012

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

Friday
Oct192012

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

Monday
Oct012012

Sen. Blunt: Todd Akin Could Still Win in Missouri

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” have caused some to question whether he is a legitimate candidate for Senate in Missouri where he is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill.  But several top Senate Republicans still believe that Akin can win in November.

“Todd may well yet win,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Blunt at first said Akin should give up his run after the rape comments drew fire, but now he and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have expressed support for his campaign, although the NRSC is still holding back monetary contributions.

Republicans increase their overall chances of regaining control of the Senate if Akin defeats incumbent McCaskill.  Many other races for Republican-held Senate seats are tightening and the stakes are high, according to Blunt.

“The national issues are big enough that we need to have an discussion of those issues rather than the ones Todd managed to bring to the table,” Blunt said.  “I think at the end of the day, that race does largely become a debate about the majority in the Senate.”

If Republicans take control of the Senate in November that change-up would likely stall President Obama’s agenda, should he win re-election.  If Mitt Romney wins, controlling the Senate will be key to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Blunt isn’t the only Republican to back Akin.

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hasn’t stopped supporting Akin.  And Republican Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are hosting a fundraiser for Akin on Wednesday, according to an invitation obtained by Politico.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Todd Akin at News Conference: I’m Staying in the Race

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(ST. LOUIS, M.O.) -- Todd Akin’s message to Missouri: I’m staying in the race.

Akin, the sixth-term Republican congressman who is running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, held his first news conference on Thursday after top Republicans heaped pressure on him to withdraw as a candidate following his controversial comments on rape and pregnancy.

“Apparently there are some people who are having trouble understanding my message,” Akin said during brief remarks at a press conference in St. Louis County, announced only hours before it began. “I’d like to be clear … today that we’re going to be here through the November election, and we’re going to be here to win.”

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman and Texas Sen. John Cornyn and at least 10 other U.S. senators have asked Akin to withdraw.

Missouri GOP luminaries, including former senator Jack Danforth and former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, also have called on Akin to drop from the race.

Akin sparked the controversy last weekend by suggesting, in a local TV interview that cases of “legitimate rape” rarely result in pregnancy. Akin has since apologized in multiple radio interviews and in a TV ad released on Tuesday. Akin has also explained that by “legitimate” he was referring to forcible rape.

“You know, one of the things I’ve realized through the years: I  may not be the favorite candidate of some people within the Republican establishment, but the voters make the decision,” Akin said. “This is an election. It’s not a selection.”

Akin said threats have been made against him and his family. The Capitol Police confirmed to media outlets this week that it was investigating them.

Akin sought to return to his campaign message, drawing a contrast between himself and incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“The America that I represent is an America that has more freedom and more jobs -- an America with less bureaucracy, less big government, less taxes and a bright hope for the future,” he said. “The America that Claire McCaskill has given us is an America that has less freedom, less jobs, more big government and the same stalled economy.”

As Akin seeks to recover from the controversy, his fundraising will be closely watched and his campaign has launched an online fundraising drive to help the congressman fend off pressure to withdraw. Since launching the campaign, Akin has raised over $125,000, according to his website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

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

Wednesday
Aug222012

Todd Akin Opens Door to Possible Exit from Missouri Senate Race

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Republican Congressman Todd Akin opened the door to a possible exit from Missouri's Senate race on Wednesday, saying he doesn't know the future.

“Well George, I’m never going to say everything that could possibly happen.  I don’t know the future, but I do know this.  I know that the party voters took a look at our hearts, understood who we were, had a chance to meet us in many, many different ways and made a decision,” Akin told ABC's Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos.  “And it makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process.”

Republicans are lining up to ask Akin to drop out, including Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. The chairman of the Republican Party has also asked Akin not to attend next week’s convention in Tampa, Fla.

Akin told Stephanopoulos he will honor the wishes of Reince Priebus and not attend the convention, but insists he can still win the Senate seat.  He’s staying in the race because of how he won the primary -- running on his principles.

“We’ve given this a lot of thought. The fact is that over more than a year period of time, a number of us ran in this Republican primary. Each of us had our messages.  I was outspent by a large amount in terms of media.  And yet by standing on principle and putting politics aside and talking about the foundations of this country, the people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate,” he said.

The Republican Party and Super PACs have pulled their money from his campaign after Akin said “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” on a local TV station Sunday.

Akin has since apologized for his comment, telling Stephanopoulos Wednesday morning that “the word legitimate doesn’t ever have a good reason to be standing next to rape.  There is no rape that is legitimate.”

The congressman, who sits on the House Science Committee, also admits that statement was medically wrong.

“The point of the matter is that, yes, pregnancy can happen as a result of rape. I understand that and I’ve acknowledged that fact. At the same time I don’t apologize for the fact that I’m consistently pro-life. I believe in defending the unborn and I believe that based on those kinds of principles I can win this race,” he said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Todd Akin Asks for Forgiveness in New Ad

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- Amid growing pressure for him to drop out of Missouri's Senate race, Rep. Todd Akin released a new ad Tuesday asking for forgiveness over remarks he made about women rarely becoming pregnant from "legitimate rape."

"Rape is an evil act.  I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize," Akin says in the 30-second spot titled "Forgiveness."

The Republican congressman is referring to an interview with KTVI-TV that aired Sunday in which he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Those comments have led to a backlash from several Republicans, who are calling on Akin to exit the race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.  It has also caused the super PAC American Crossroads to pull funding for his campaign.

"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," Akin says in the new ad.

"The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold.  I ask for your forgiveness," the video concludes.

Akin has insisted he's staying in the race, telling Mike Huckabee's radio show on Monday that he is "not a quitter."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

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

Monday
Aug202012

Republicans Condemn Todd Akin for 'Legitimate Rape' Remarks

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said today that he would not step aside despite calls for him to quit by two prominent Republican senators following his comments about "legitimate rape."

Akin, a Republican, insisted on Mike Huckabee's radio show today that he is staying in the race despite the furor over his comments that rape victims rarely get pregnant.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said Sunday.

Akin apologized for the remark today and told Huckabee that he was "not a quitter," and still hoped to win the Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"I've really made a couple of serious mistakes here that were just wrong, and I need to apologize for those," he said.

"Let me be clear," Akin added. "Rape is never legitimate. It's an evil act that's committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words in the wrong way."

When asked today to clarify what he meant by "legitimate rape," Akin said, "I was talking about forcible rape and it was absolutely the wrong word."

Akin's initial statements sparked blowback from both parties.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, and Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Wisc., who are in competitive races in their own states, released scathing statements calling for Akin's withdrawal from the Senate race.

Akin would have to withdraw from the race by Tuesday in order for the Republican Party to field another candidate before November elections.

"As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong... Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri," Brown said.

"Todd Akin's statements are reprehensible and inexcusable," Johnson tweeted. "He should step aside today for the good of the nation."

Mitt Romney this morning called Akin's comments "inexcusable" and "wrong," but stopped short of calling for his resignation. A senior official in the Romney campaign said the candidate would not call on Akin to resign.

Shortly after Huckabee's interview, President Obama took the podium at a White House press briefing and called Akin's views "offensive."

"Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what type of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn't' make sense to me."

Obama said that Akin's comments demonstrated why "we shouldn't have politicians, most of whom are men, making decisions" about women's health.

He declined to comment specifically on Akin. "He was nominated by the Republicans of Missouri and I'll let them sort that out," Obama said.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards denounced Akin's comment and it was an "egregious example" of legislators "making policy on women's health without understanding it."

The comments were quickly seized on by Democrats who tried to link Akin to the presumptive Republican presidential ticket, putting Romney and Paul Ryan on the defensive.

"As a woman I'm really concerned that Paul Ryan doesn't understand that rape is rape," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., said this morning on CBS, accusing Ryan and Akin of teaming up last year to pass legislation that would redefine rape.

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., the Missouri incumbent who is fighting for her reelection said in a statement. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

GOP Senate Candidate Says Pregnancy ‘Rare’ in ‘Legitimate Rape’

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who opposes abortion in most cases, including rape, said in a television interview Sunday that it is “really rare” that victims of “legitimate rape” get pregnant.

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin, who is running against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in an interview on the Jaco Report on KTVI-TV.  “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He added that if the woman does become pregnant, “the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

McCaskill called the comments “offensive.”

“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” she said in a statement.  “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”

Akin later released a statement saying he “misspoke” and that he has “deep empathy” for victims of rape.

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” he said.  “Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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