Sen. Claire McCaskill said she hopes her Republican challenger's comments on rape and pregnancy serve as a "gut check" for Missourians come November.
"For most Missourians, I hope this is one of those gut check moments where they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values on the floor of the United States Senate," she said on Morning Joe Monday.
Rep. Todd Akin suggested over the weekend that women are able to "shut down" their bodies during rape to prevent pregnancy. He has since said he misspoke (though he does not specify which part).
"For the state I love, I hope this is a moment where everyone who hasn’t been paying close attention—this statement is kind of a window into Todd Akin’s mind," McCaskill said.
When asked whether or not she believed Akin should step down or be removed as the GOP candidate in this race, McCaskill demurred a bit.
"It's not my place to decide," she said. "I think the people of Missouri have to make this decision."
Pointing out that Akin won the Republican primary by a "comfortable margin" earlier this month (36% in a three-way race), McCaskill said she believed it would be "pretty radical" for the national Republican Party to try to forcibly remove him given the voters had selected him.
Cynics will point out that if Akin stays in the race, this could make what was supposed to be a tough re-election for the Democratic Sen. McCaskill a bit easier. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, for instance, jokingly introduced her to the show Monday morning as "Let’s bring in right now the woman re-elected last night from St. Louis."
McCaskill, a former prosecutor, sought to put it into other terms.
"I spent 10 years as a prosecutor in the courtroom and did hundreds and hundreds of rape cases, held their hands, cried with them," she said. "That’s why for me this is incredibly painful, because it shows how many people are out there sometimes in very important positions that just don’t understand the trauma and don’t’ understand what it means."
"This is a very, very, very, very, very, very conservative person," she later added.
Meanwhile, several Republican officials sought to distance themselves from Akin's ignorant remark.
Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney: "Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong."
Republican congressman Scott Brown: I found Todd Akin’s comments about rape victims outrageous and way over the line. He needs to apologize.
George Allen, Virginia GOP candidate for Senate: While Congressman Akin may have addressed his statement, like many men and women I strongly disapprove of his original comments — and the sentiments behind them.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on NOW with Alex Wagner: It was outrageous. I don't think he represents the party in any way...He has a lot of apologizing to do.