Updated 3:30 p.m. with the McCaskill campaign
Rep. Todd Akin is trying to go back on offense in the Missouri U.S. Senate race after spending weeks apologizing and doing damage control following his controversial comments about rape and abortion.
Akin’s newest television ad focuses squarely on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, linking her to the 2010 health-care overhaul and to President Barack Obama, who’s unlikely to carry Missouri in the Nov. 6 election. The spot includes footage of McCaskill at a raucous town-hall meeting on health-care policy in August 2009.
It’s a shift from Akin’s two previous ads, which called attention to his Aug. 19 comments that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy. Akin ran an apology ad through Aug. 28, followed by a spot that showed him contrasting his “six-second mistake” to McCaskill’s “six-year record” in the Senate.
Akin’s new ad first ran Sept. 15 in the Springfield market, the most Republican-friendly area in the state, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. Akin is picking up a theme that American Crossroads, the Karl-Rove backed super-PAC, was airing in its ads against McCaskill — linking her to the president on “Obama-care” — before the super-PAC and national party abandoned his campaign.
McCaskill is dominating Akin on television as his fundraising slows and Republican groups refuse to help him since his “six-second” gaffe. McCaskill ran 1,424 spots to Akin’s 376 in the 14-day period ended Sept. 10, CMAG data show.
Update: McCaskill’s campaign responded to Akin’s ad by attacking his record and pointing to its own TV spot, in which McCaskill says to camera that she’s carved out a record of political centrism through “Missouri-style independence.”
“Todd Akin is trying once again to mislead voters about Claire’s record because he knows his own beliefs are just too extreme for Missouri,” Erik Dorey, a McCaskill campaign spokesman, said in an e-mail.
The only outside group active in the Missouri race during that period was a pro-McCaskill organization, Vote Vets Action Fund, which ran an ad 134 times praising the senator for her work on veterans issues.
Republican outside groups continue to ignore Akin. The Republican Party’s Target State Victory Fund, a new joint fundraising organization, excludes Missouri from its list of states with key Senate races. Akin has attacked Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other party officials he calls “bosses.”
Democratic strategists say they still consider the Missouri Senate race as competitive even as Republican groups shun Akin. The race will stay “relatively close” because Missouri, outside of metropolitan St. Louis and Kansas City,is “a culturally and socially conservative state,” Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters earlier this month during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte earlier this month.