Aug 23, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from Ballot Box: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Democrats are staying largely mum about Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) controversial comments on rape, showing their awareness it’s in the senator’s best interest if he stays in the race.
McCaskill’s odds of reelection are much higher if Akin remains the nominee and they go down considerably if Republicans get their way and swap him with what might be a more competitive candidate.
And Democratic pushback against the most recent poll from the GOP-leaning firm Rasmussen, that showed McCaskill up by 10 points over Akin, indicates as much, as does the senator’s reluctance to mention her rival’s controversial comments on the campaign trail.
McCaskill, meanwhile, has indicated she wants Akin to stay in the race.
“I think it would be a radical thing to try to force someone who had won an election honestly off the ballot just because you think you want to pick another candidate. I think that’s wrong,” McCaskill told a St. Louis television station earlier this week.
And Democrats were quick to push back against Thursday’s poll, saying Rasmussen has a conservative bias and is in cahoots with GOP party leadership in trying to pressure Akin out of the race.
“Everyone knows that Rasmussen is a tool of the Republican establishment in Washington,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Shripal Shah told The Hill.
A McCaskill campaign aide added that “it’s just not in line with what we’re seeing in our internal polling.”
The senator has largely stayed away from Akin’s controversial comments on the campaign trail. In stops this week, which were scheduled before Akin’s comments were made, she focused on veterans’ issues and barely mentioned the controversy — at one point joking about how “boring” the race has been lately, but nothing more. Though Democrats sent out a flurry of fundraising emails based on the comments on Monday, that has largely died down, and no new ads or attacks focused on Akin have been launched thus far.
Missouri Republican operative Neal Etheridge noted that “the Democrats, to their credit, identified Todd Akin as a loose cannon, as someone who would make this kind of mistake, and would be the weaker candidate against McCaskill.”
“Their greatest fear today is that Akin will drop out,” he added.