With Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) staying on the ballot in the Missouri Senate race, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has released a pair of new TV ads, including a spot that references Akin's August comment that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.
The negative ad rehashes a bunch of Akin's more controversial comments, but closes by saying that he believes that "only some rapes are legitimate." It's the first time McCaskill's campaign has referenced Akin's remark about rape and pregnancy in a TV ad.
This is the dagger stage of the race. Democrats are going to start hitting Akin hard in hopes of ending the contest early and preventing him from repairing his image. After Akin stoked controversy with his comment last month, Democrats refrained from launching a barrage of attack ads drawing attention to it, so as not to drive him out of the race. But now that Akin is on the ballot to stay (the deadline for him to drop his bid came and went on Tuesday), their posture is likely to change.
McCaskill also launched a positive statewide TV spot touting her effort to reform defense contracting and ban earmarks.
In the meantime, Akin appears as though he'll get the help of an unlikely backer: Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund. Akin, a former unapologetic earmarker, has in recent days embraced an earmark ban, which DeMint's group supports. During the Republican primary, Senate Conservatives Fund spokesman Matt Hoskins was openly critical of Akin on spending and earmarks.