Todd Akin finds funding in last days of Senate race

Todd Akin’s campaign for the U.S. Senate has come into money in the final days before the election, putting the Missouri Republican’s message on statewide television for the first time in a way that comes close to the broadcast buys of his opponent, Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Akin and his supporters are spending $1.75 million on statewide ads this week, compared with about $2 million spent for McCaskill during the same period. The Akin ads appear after months of being outspent by McCaskill at a margin of 9 to 1.

Akin’s official campaign is contributing $600,000. The Now or Never SuperPAC, which supports GOP candidates in a number of states, will spend $800,000, and the Missouri Republican party has kicked in $387,000. A SuperPAC associated with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made a “six-figure ad buy,” the second Akin ad funded by Paul’s backers.

Akin became a pariah to national GOP leaders after telling a television interviewer in August that woman generally do not get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape.” Top Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky., asked Akin to drop out of the race and cut national party support for his campaign.

A number of senators have since defied McConnell. In addition to Paul, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pledged about $300,000 to help Akin through his political action committee. In addition, Sens. Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) lent their names to Akin fundraising efforts. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former House speaker Newt Gingrich have appeared in the state recently on Akin’s behalf.

Akin apologized in August for his comment about rape, but he sank in the polls, surviving with a small cadre of defiant supporters, mostly Christian conservatives . McCaskill leads in most polls, but Akin’s numbers have recovered to the point that McCaskill supporters are sounding the alarm.

“Theeeeeey’re baaa-aack,” says a fundraising e-mail sent to supporters Wednesday. “In the last 24 hours, a Republican SuperPAC and the Missouri Republican Party purchased $1.2 million worth of attack ads against Claire...With the latest poll showing Claire up only two points, we need to respond immediately.”

McCaskill’s campaign spokeswoman, Caitlin Legacki, said that “Missouri elections are always close. We are taking nothing for granted,” noting that a massive get-out-the-vote effort is underway.

Tom Hamburger covers the intersection of money and politics for The Washington Post.

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