Akin, McCaskill Set for Final Debate Tonight, 5 Things to Look For

Missouri Senate debate Sept. 21, 2012

Missouri Senate candidate Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and Republican Todd Akin meet Thursday night for their 2nd and final debate of their distinctive Senate campaign.
The debate is being held at Clayton High School in suburban St. Louis it will be broadcast throughout many portions of the state, including KSHB TV in Kansas City.
Things to look for:
#1: Oxygen:
The debate starts at 7 tonight, that is the same time the St. Louis Cardinal baseball play-off game starts. Many Missourians will be watching that, or some other program rather than a Senate debate.
That means that most voters will get their information about what happens second-hand; through TV news sound bites, newspaper stories; on-line coverage and other social media.
Akin and McCaskill will have a restricted chance at speaking directly to the voters.
Both candidates best chance to break through that barrier could be some sort of news making event, a remark or zinger or gesture, (getting in their rivals physical space, for example).
#2 Akin on Offense?
In September, Rep Todd Akin was on the defensive at a debate in Columbia for most of the 90 minute session. It was so apparent he accused rival McCaskill of being “unladly like” during the debate.
Will Akin be able to turn the table on McCaskill?
Akin can be eloquent at times speaking about his belief in his faith and the guiding principles of the nation.
McCaskill, however, brought her chops as a former prosecutor to the first debate and laid out her case against Akin in that manner.
She’ll probably do that again.
The Akin campaign wants their candidate to match her. Can he do that?

#3 “Legitimate Rape”
For the most part, McCaskill’s campaign has let Akin’s bombshell comment ferment on it’s own. Other 3rd party advertising on her behalf have put it out there front and center.
The McCaskill campaign is trying tie that remark to Akin’s overall record on women’s issues on reproductive rights. They offered up a series of commercials from women criticizing Akin on that issue that continues to run on statewide television.
Akin’s opposition to offers of emergency contraception for victims of rape or incest is on the far right end of the Republican party.
The ‘legitimate rape” remark was so offensive to some in the GOP because they thought it ratified the Democratic claims the Republicans were conducting a “war on women”
He will counter by saying that he does not oppose the use of contraceptives. He will have to defend his remarks that he feels emergency contraception is a form of abortion. Many doctors do not consider that the case. They maintain is prevents a pregnancy, it does not end one.

#4 Money
Akin’s best opportunity may be to try to continue to litigate his case that McCaskill got rich by being in the US Senate.
Akin’s most aggressive thrust against McCaskill is that is that her husband, Joe Shepard has benefited from government money awarded to companies he is connected with who provide low-income housing.
They charge Shepard, or companies he is connected with, has received nearly $40 million in government fund from HUD or the USDA Rural Housing Project since she took office in 2007.
Akin’s campaign has suggested there is some improper connection between
McCaskill’s Senate term and Shepard’s business activity.
Akin’s campaign, however, has never offered any hard proof of impropriety.
If they have it, now would be a good time to offer it up.
Look for McCaskill to be very aggressive in refuting ANY Akin claims on this issue.
#5 Senate Control
Republicans at first viewed Missouri as a prime pick-up opportunity. A chance to turn a Democratic senate seat into a Republican one to help take control of the US Senate.
That changed after Akin’s ‘legitimate rape” remark.
Akin will try to remind voters McCaskill votes with the Obama White House almost all of the time.
McCaskill will counter by pointing to another ranking that puts her squarely in the middle, 50th of the among 100 Senators, on the political spectrum.
The belief among Missouri voters that McCaskill is a close ally of a President who is unpopular in the state (especially on Obamacare, which Akin will condemn) is one of the reasons why the Missouri Senate race remains close.
Akin’s ability to drive that home in some sort of news making manner may be vital to his campaign down the stretch.

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