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Why Claire McCaskill wants Todd Akin to stay in Missouri race

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Political analysts call McCaskill an astute political operator, both before the “legitimate rape” comment and after.

“I think she’s probably handled [the Akin uproar] about as well as she can,” says Peverill Squire, a political scientist at the University of Missouri, Columbia. “She conveyed her displeasure with his comments, while not appearing to pile on as he was being pummeled enough by the rest of the world.”

If she were to join in, Mr. Squire says, “it might make [Akin] a little more sympathetic, at least to some Republicans.”

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, McCaskill demurred on the question of whether Akin should drop out of the race.

“It’s not my place to decide… I think the people of Missouri have to make this decision,” McCaskill said. But she added that it would be “radical” for him to withdraw after winning the hotly contested primary on Aug. 7.

McCaskill also took a jab at Akin’s comment. “This statement is a window into Todd Akin’s mind,” she said. She added that as a former prosecutor, she held the hands of rape victims and cried with them.

A survey taken Monday and released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling shows Akin still ahead of McCaskill, but by only 1 percentage point, 44 percent to 43 percent. Other recent polls, pre-uproar, showed Akin ahead by an average of 5 percentage points.

A SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday showed 54 percent of Missouri voters, including a majority of men and women, want Akin to drop out of the race. Some 76 percent say they do not share his views on rape and pregnancy.

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