Updated: 5:50 p.m. ET
Rand Paul on Tuesday joined a small group of Republican politicians demonstrating a willingness to support Todd Akin's embattled bid for the Senate, unveiling a tacitly pro-Akin ad that his super PAC, RandPAC, says will run statewide in Missouri.
Akin, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskil for her Senate seat, has become the Republican black sheep of the campaign cycle after positing in an August interview that women are unlikely to become pregnant as a result of "legitimate rape." He faces a significant fundraising deficit compared with McCaskill.
The Republican establishment has essentially disavowed Akin's candidacy in light of his "rape" comments, and has refused to back him financially. Akin said recently he's collected more than $1 million for his campaign in online donations, and has earned the backing of some conservative groups - including one led by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and one helmed by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. By comparison, however, the McCaskill campaign raised $5.8 million during the 3rd quarter alone, and has, according to the New York Times, spent millions attacking Akin for his . The McCaskill campaign's internal polling, meanwhile, shows her leading Akin 52 percent to 38 percent.
There was no mention of Akin in the minute-long ad, which instead attacked McCaskill for voting against a bill to provide continued support for U.S. aid to Egypt, but offered tacit support for the embattled state representative.
"Senator Paul believes this race can be won," said Doug Stafford, spokesman of RandPAC, in an email. "He also feels strongly on the issue of foreign aid, and wants to run these ads in places where the Senator up for reelection is on the wrong side of the issue, as Senator McCaskill is."
Stafford said that with regard to Akin's comments on rape, Paul "accepts that Congressman Akin apologized for what he said," according to Stafford. "One or two mistaken sentences or thoughts doesn't change the fact that there are dozens of issues on which Claire McCaskill is truly bad on and on which Todd Akin would be a significant improvement."
Stafford told CBSNews.com the ad will run statewide starting tomorrow in Missouri and that the buy was in the low six-figures. Similar ads, he says, are already running in support of Republican candidates in West Virginia, Florida and Ohio.
The McCaskill campaign, however, defended McCaskill's vote, pointing out that 81 senators opposed the amendment for which the Democrat is being targeted, and that Akin has voted to cut funding for U.S. embassy security, via support for Paul Ryan's budget proposal.
"Todd Akin's position on this issue is so extreme, he would be one of only 10 Senators to cut this foreign aid funding. Sen. Roy Blunt [R-Mo.], as well as every member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Sen. John McCain, voted against this bill because these overly-simplistic solutions in a dangerous, complex world put our allies and American interests at risk," said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman, in an email. "Claire's led the fight to bring our tax dollars home from wasteful infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, and she is confident that those who attacked our embassies and our citizens will be brought to justice--an approach that Osama bin Laden came to understand intimately when U.S. Navy Seals showed up on his doorstep."
The number of political supporters lending their names to the Akin campaign remains small, but the candidate also scored the support of two prominent names from the TLC channel: "Jim Bob" and Michelle Duggar, of the show "19 Kids and Counting," a reality program about the large clan's family life.
This is not the Duggars' first foray onto the political campaign trail: They also supported Santorum's presidential primary bid.