In the final week of the election, Missouri voters will see two sides to Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin.
One is a compassionate guy women can trust. The other is a flawed politician Republicans need to win back the Senate. Each will get its own airing in the final leg of the campaign with ads urging voters to choose the unpopular Republican and defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Still struggling to win support among women voters after his “legitimate rape” comments from August, the Akin campaign’s final ad push includes a minute-long spot in which a rape victim praises Akin as the most compassionate person she’s ever met.
The woman, Kelly Burrell, identifies herself as a “single mother, a woman who has had an abortion. I’ve been raped in my past.”
“The reason that I’m voting for Todd and I’m so proud of him is because he defends the unborn,” Burrell says in the spot. “He’s a kind man, a compassionate man. He has so much integrity.”
CNN reported the ad is airing in Missouri. The Akin campaign and the Missouri GOP have put $700,000 toward a final advertising push for Akin. As TPM reported, it’s likely some of that money comes from national Republicans even though the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it would not back Akin. The Akin campaign declined to comment on the buy.
Though Akin’s remark that women’s bodies have a natural defense against becoming pregnant from a “legitimate rape” is never mentioned, the ad is meant to overcome those comments, particularly since McCaskill has run ads with rape survivors denouncing Akin.
This isn’t the first time Burrell has supported Akin. When the Akin campaign launched a “Women for Akin” group in September, Burrell was one of the women in the original roll-out.
Another ad is hoping voters might be swayed by convincing Missourians that a Republican Senate majority is more important than the candidate’s personal failings.
The latter approach is being made by a Missouri-based super PAC that has jumped into the race in the final week to help push Akin over the top. Now or Never PAC has put $1 million behind an ad that appeals to Romney voters by arguing that if elected, Romney will need a Republican Senate to get his agenda through Congress. PAC spokesman Tyler Harber said late Thursday the group was increasing its buy from $800,000.
“Mitt Romney can take our nation in a new direction, but he needs a Senate that supports him,” a narrator says in the ad. “That’s where Todd Akin comes in. You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you can be sure, in the Senate, Akin will vote for Romney’s policies.”
“To avoid Washington gridlock and get this country back to work, our best choice is Todd Akin,” the narrator concludes.
Now or Never PAC supported former Missouri Sarah Steelman in the primary. “Todd Akin may have not been our first choice for Republican nominee in the race to replace Claire McCaskill,” Harber said in a news release. “But, Congressman Akin plays an important role in securing the Senate chamber.”
With five days to go, Missouri voters are getting a dose of both strategies.
The TPM PollTracker Average shows McCaskill with a six-point lead over Akin, but the race still represents one of Republicans’ best pick-up opportunities as other competitive Senate races move more firmly into the Democratic column.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.