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Monday, August 13, 2012

In Missouri Senate Race, Ad Assails Akin\'s Position on Social Security


Less than one week after Representative Todd Akin clinched the Republican contest in Missouri to take on Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrats have begun the campaign against him in earnest with an ad criticizing Mr. Akin's position on Social Security.

The ad, released by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, describes Mr. Akin as “way out of Missouri's mainstream” for supporting the partial privatization of Social Security.

And if the amount money spent on this early ad is any indication, Democrats are prepared for a competitive - and expensive - race: The committee spent $1.1 million to buy airtime for this initial ad, which will run across the state, according to one Democrat who tracks media buys. (Republican groups have already spent an estimated $15.2 million on ads opposing Ms. McCaskill.)

The ad includes a clip of Mr. Akin, from an appearance on C-Span in 2011, in wh ich he said of Social Security, “I don't like it.”

“I think the independent voters in Missouri are going to be most persuaded by the facts and policies that Todd Akin supports,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic committee, “so highlighting in a factual way how far out of the mainstream Todd Akin is, that's our winning strategy.”

The theme echoes a narrative that has been pushed by Ms. McCaskill's campaign, and that helped propel Mr. Akin to victory in his party's primary. During the Republican primary, Ms. McCaskill's campaign funded nearly $2 million worth of ads describing Mr. Akin as “too conservative,” part of an effort by her campaign to influence the choice of her challenger.

As the election nears, the Democrats' strategy might extend to include Mr. Akin's stance on issues affecting women, including abortion and access to contraception. Mr. Akin, who is backed by the Tea Party, opposes abortion under any circumstance, an d has said he considers the morning-after pill to be a form of abortion.

Mr. Akin has also been forthcoming about his qualms with Social Security, which he has called “a tax,” but he has said that he supports continuing the program for older Americans while phasing in private options.

The race between Mr. Akin and Ms. McCaskill will be among the most competitive Senate contests in the country, and a challenging one for Democrats in a state that has turned a darker shade of red since Ms. McCaskill was elected in 2008. Prior to the Republican primary, a poll conducted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found Ms. McCaskill trailing all of her potential Republican opponents, including Mr. Akin, by five points (just outside the margin of error).