JEFFERSON CITY – More than a month after his comments about “legitimate rape” nearly derailed his campaign for U.S. Senate, Republican Todd Akin said Thursday that it has become clear to him that he will triumph over Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill this fall.
Part of his confidence, he said, comes from McCaskill's demeanor during their debate last week, which he said was not as "ladylike" as it was when she faced off with Republican Jim Talent in 2006.
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin said. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”
The two rivals faced off for the first time last week at a debate sponsored by the Missouri Press Association. McCaskill wasted no time going after Akin, using her opening statement to paint a picture of the six-term Republican Congressman as a political extremist who is "so far on the fringe."
On Thursday, Akin said it is actually McCaskill whose views do not fall in line with the majority of Missourians.
"She's out of step badly with the State of Missouri," Akin said, later adding: "Her voting record just doesn't fit."
The race began garnering national attention last month after Akin falsely claimed during a TV interview that victims of rape have a biological ability to ward off pregnancy, a claim soundly rejected by the medical community.
Despite repeatedly apologizing for his remarks, Republican leaders in Missouri and nationally called on him to drop out of the race. If he did not, they pledged that they would not support him with money or resources, despite the fact that most predict Republicans would be hard pressed to take back the U.S. Senate without Missouri’s seat.
At one point, five current or former Republican Missouri senators all called for Akin to withdraw.
This week, with the deadline for dropping out of the race passed, many of those same Republican leaders have switched course and are now supporting Akin. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which could shepherd millions of dollars into the Show-Me State, has hinted it could jump into the race on Akin's behalf as well.
One person who has not jumped on the Akin bandwagon is former Republican U.S. Sen. John Danforth. He said Monday that Akin has tainted the GOP’s brand and alienated women.
Despite Danforth's comments, Akin says he will win on Nov. 6.
"Here comes a voter into the voting booth and he’s voting for Romney," he said. "Is he going to cross over and vote for Claire McCaskill? I don’t think so. That doesn’t make any sense at all."
Michelle Trupiano, public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the more people learn about Akin, “the more they realize they do not stand for what he stands for.”
Trupiano, who was part of a group protesting Akin's appearance at the Capitol on Thursday, balked at the assertion that McCaskill was not as “ladylike” during the Senate debate last week as she was during the 2006 campaign.
“I believe Sen. McCaskill has a lot of material when it comes to Todd Akin to expose and be aggressive about, because he’s made so many statements and has such extreme views that she needs to go on the offensive so that the public will know where he stands,” she said.