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Akin seeks to improve image with female voters

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Congressman Todd Akin is trying to improve his image with female voters.  On Tuesday night, Akin held an event featuring numerous women voicing their support for him. It was his first appearance in St. Louis since his now infamous comments concerning "legitimate rape."

Since then, Akin's campaign for U.S. Senate has largely stuck to campaigning in the rural areas of Missouri, avoiding his congressional district in St. Louis County -- at least until now.

The event had well over a hundred women, mostly middle aged and predominantly conservative Christian.

The Akin campaign handed out blue pamphlets with testimonials from women about why they were sticking with the embattled Congressman. On the front, the pamphlet reads: "We think for ourselves."

It's the Akin campaign's attempt to win back female voters he might have lost a few weeks ago. Speakers ranged from Phyllis Schlafly (founder and leader of the Eagle Forum), to a neo-natal doctor, to a young immigrant from Russia.

The reasons the women offered varied a bit. Some said his fiscal responsibility, while one woman said Akin stood with her on issues that matter to women, like restricting pornography. But the overwhelming reason given was Akin's pro-life record.

"What immediately attracted me to Todd Akin was his seamless commitment to pro-life, we can trust him to do what he says he's going to do," Bridget van Means said. Van Means is the President of ThriVe, a pro-life non-profit.

"And on a less noble note, he also scored a hundred thousand dollar earmark for our organization," she said, laughing and drawing applause from the crowd.

Akin himself only gave a speech that lasted a few minutes and did not field questions afterward. His speech consisted entirely of an anecdote about his mother teaching him poetry about the Revolutionary War, which he then recited.

Akin's supporters say the candidate has apologized enough for his remarks.

"What I'm really trying to drive home with a lot of my friends is 'Is one statement really more important than the potential if Claire (McCaskill) would get re-elected?'" Kimberly Benz said after the speeches. Benz is a coordinator for the Akin campaign, working in St. Louis County.

"If that (Akin's campaign) gets thrown away due to a 60 second sound byte, then that's a real shame. That's a shame for Missouri."

But the McCaskill campaign is quick to point out that Akin's attempt to entice female voters did not start off auspiciously. As the Post-Dispatch reported, an early version of "Missouri Women Standing with Todd Akin" purported to show female supporters, but actually showcased a McCaskill employee who was there to monitor his activities.

The McCaskill campaign released the following statement in response to the event. "Todd Akin's positions are so extreme, he would outlaw common forms of birth control, including The Pill, and would ban the morning after pill for rape victims. That just goes too far."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

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