Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) successfully defended her seat on Tuesday against opponent Rep. Todd Akin (R), the Tea Party-backed Republican who has become infamous for his comments about "legitimate rape."
Akin was leading McCaskill in the polls until he said in August that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant, because the female body "has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Akin was defending his position that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape.
Republicans initially distanced himself from Akin after his remarks and demanded that he leave the Senate race, but they slowly reinstated their support. In the final weeks leading up to the election, the Republican Party spent about $700,000 toward Akin's election effort.
In his concession speech, Akin compared himself to people who have suffered from cancer, saying people like him "suffer of cancer, loss of a job, house, loved ones and they press on. They're the backbone of America. When called, they'll risk their lives for their country or their community, but they don't think of themselves as particularly special. They don't look to government for special deals, but they do think that the government should respect our hard-earned tax dollars that it collects. In short, they love God, they love their families and they love our country."
Akin added, "You know, we believe that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come from almighty God, not an almighty government ... and we believe that the Constitution is not a list of suggestions."
McCaskill supports abortion rights and is the first female senator from Missouri. Her comeback and defeat of Akin is particularly noteworthy, as she was viewed as the Democratic incumbent most in danger of losing her seat.
EMILY's List, a progressive women's advocacy group that campaigned for McCaskill, celebrated her win on Tuesday.
“Tonight, voters in Missouri reelected a true champion for women and families,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. “This election provided a clear choice between leaders like Claire McCaskill, who want to move forward by expanding women’s healthcare access and economic opportunity, and candidates like Todd 'Legitimate Rape' Akin, who was committed to redefining rape, and denying women access to reproductive healthcare and equal pay. The EMILY’s List community – now more than two million members strong – fought hard to turn out an impressive number of women voters and leaders like Claire McCaskill. Leaders like Claire will end the Republican Party’s anti-middle class agenda by supporting policies that benefit women and families.”
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