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McCaskill avoids direct hit on Akin over abortion remarks

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – One day after Rep. Todd Akin vowed to stay in the race for US Senate, dismissing calls from across the Republican party to step aside, Sen. Claire McCaskill welcomed Akin back to the campaign by bashing him for abandoning veterans during his years in Congress.

 Visiting two VFW halls near St. Louis on Wednesday, McCaskill, the Democrat Akin is hoping to unseat here in Missouri, went through a list of Akin votes that took more than two minutes to recite.

 Audiences were mostly male and senior citizen.  Survivors of combat in Vietnam – and at least one World War II veteran – looked on beneath baseball caps decorated with military insignia as she accused Akin of blocking bonuses for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and voting against health care benefits for reservists and national guard members.

 “So that’s kind of the list,” McCaskill said of Akin’s voting record.  “Now, I don’t have a list like that."

 The attack did not include any mention of the recent controversy embroiling Akin.

 Sunday, Akin told a television interviewer that women could biologically prevent pregnancies resulting from what he called “legitimate rape.” 

 The remarks set off a firestorm, but Wednesday McCaskill only alluded to them broadly.

 During a press conference outside a VFW home in nearby Overland, McCaskill brushed aside questions about Akin’s future.

 “The voters have spoken, and he’s the nominee,” McCaskill said.

 “We’re going to draw the contrasts that I think are necessary so that voters know that he’s outside the mainstream, he’s very extreme,” she added later.

 Tuesday, Akin let a deadline for withdrawing from the Senate race pass.

 He told NBC’s Matt Lauer during a Wednesday interview on the TODAY show that his nomination was a “decision made by the citizens of our state, not the party bosses.”

 McCaskill’s VFW visits were part of a so-called “Vets for Claire” listening tour that the campaign says was arranged prior to the Akin controversy.

 A VFW official in Overland asked reporters to hold McCaskill’s press conference outside the building, in order to keep the organization compliant with rules prohibiting political activity by 501(c)(3) charity groups.