In new ad, McCaskill hits Akin for "legitimate" rape comment

Akin announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate, May 17, 2011, in Creve Coeur, Mo.
Jeff Roberson

(CBS News) With the deadline officially passed for Republican Todd Akin to drop his Missouri Senate bid, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill is out with a new ad targeting the candidate for his controversial comments about "legitimate rape" and other hot-button topics, asking voters what they think he might say "next"?

The 30-second-spot, entitled "Calendar," flips through some of the more contentious comments that Akin has uttered in recent memory - including statements about Social Security, Medicare, minimum wage, student loans, as well as his now-notorious "legitimate rape" comment.

"What will he say next?" the narrator asks.

In August, Akin incited the disbelief of Democrats and Republicans alike when he suggested in a radio interview that if a "legitimate rape" occurs, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Even if a pregnancy did result, Akin said, "The punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child." He later said he has empathy for rape victims and acknowledged that rapes can cause pregnancy.

Amid uproar over the suggestion that only some rapes are "legitimate" - as well as the notion that rapes don't result in pregnancy - national Republican leadership, including Mitt Romney, condemned the statements and called on Akin to bow out of the race.

Yesterday, the final day Akin could legally withdraw from the contest, the candidate announced that he would not do so.

His decision, though expected, comes as a blow to Republicans. McCaskill is a controversial figure in the increasingly red state, and her seat had been targeted by the GOP as a prime pick-up opportunity in the Senate.

In light of that, some Republicans say they are considering lending Akin support.

On Wednesday, conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who helms the Senate Conservatives Fund, and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has in the past called Akin a "good man" who made a "ridiculous" comment, both endorsed Akin.

"If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stop President Obama's liberal agenda, we must defeat Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Her support of President Obama's job-killing, big-spending policies are sending our country into an economic abyss. And her passionate support of ObamaCare is ensuring healthcare costs go up while quality of care goes down. Simply put, we cannot afford six more years of Senator McCaskill," they said in a joint statement. "Todd Akin is a principled conservative who is committed to winning and fighting for freedom in the U.S. Senate."

Meanwhile, according to ABC, the Senate Conservatives Fund suggested yesterday that it might fund Akin's bid after all, because "circumstances have changed."

Akin has long been seen as the candidate who will give McCaskill her best shot at retaining the seat - even before his "legitimate rape" comments - and the campaign had in recent weeks been relatively benign in its attacks on him. As the campaign demonstrated with its new ad, however, that strategy is certain to change going forward.