Akin, McCaskill meet in debate for first time

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Republican Rep. Todd Akin's comments about rape are evidence of his extremism on several issues, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said Friday at the first debate between the Missouri Senate candidates. Akin painted his opponent as a big-spender who votes 90 percent of the time with President Barack Obama.

Republicans have long looked at Missouri as a winnable state in the effort to gain control of the Senate. Akin, 65, a six-term congressman from suburban St. Louis, won a hotly contested three-way race for the GOP Senate nomination on Aug. 6.

But just weeks later, Akin set off a furor in a televised interview by saying that women's bodies have a natural defense against pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." He made the comments when asked whether he supported abortion in cases of rape, and the answer set off a firestorm that prompted key Republicans — including Senate leaders, the party's chairman and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — to drop their support.

McCaskill has said little about Akin's comments in the four weeks since he made them, only that Republican voters picked him and he should remain in the race.

Asked at Friday's debate before a gathering of Missouri newspaper editors about whether Akin's remarks had a place in the race, McCaskill, 59, an abortion rights supporter, said the comments "open the window to his views for Missourians." She called many of his views extreme, saying he wants to end federal funding for school lunch programs and privatize Medicare and Social Security.

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