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updated: 11/6/2012 10:24 PM

McCaskill defeats controversial Akin in Senate race

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  • Republican Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape" were a political gift to Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri's U.S. Senate race.

    Republican Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape" were a political gift to Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri's U.S. Senate race.
    Associated Press file photo

Bloomberg News

Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill defeated Republican Representative Todd Akin to win a second U.S. Senate term.

The race was turned upside down Aug. 19 when Akin, 65, said in a television interview that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy. The remark prompted party officials, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to urge the six-term congressman to leave the race. It was a political gift to McCaskill, 59, who had been trailing Akin in polls.

The Senate contest in Missouri, a Republican-leaning state where President Barack Obama has low approval ratings, had been viewed as one of Republicans' best opportunities to capture one of four seats they need to win a Senate majority. McCaskill had been rated as one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re- election this year.

Following Akin's comments, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group co- founded by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove, said they wouldn't spend money on the race.

Akin apologized for his comments, though he refused to leave the race. He later won the backing of some in the party's small-government wing, including Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Akin drew fresh criticism from Democrats in September when he compared a debate with McCaskill to her 2006 campaign, when he said she was more "ladylike." His campaign painted McCaskill as a loyal supporter of Obama's agenda, including the 2010 health care law and the 2009 economic stimulus package.

In campaign speeches and ads, McCaskill said Akin would work to privatize Social Security and Medicare and to abolish the minimum wage and government-backed student loans.

McCaskill's campaign ran television ads attacking Akin's comments on rape. One, which cited Akin "in his own words," quoted the Republican lawmaker as having said about Social Security in March 2011: "I don't like it." The ad concluded with his "legitimate rape" remark and asked, "What will he say next?"

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