By Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) – Embattled Rep. Todd Akin, who on Tuesday repeated his decision to remain in Missouri’s battle for U.S. Senate, said in an interview published Thursday his opponent, Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, was more “ladylike” in her 2006 election than she is this time around.
According to the Kansas City Star, Akin claimed McCaskill’s demeanor at last week’s debate indicated she was nervous about remaining in office.
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin said. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike [in 2006], but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”
Akin couldn’t escape questions about his now-infamous comments on “legitimate rape” from August during a U.S. Senate debate last Friday, deflecting the inquiry as tangential to the real issues his race against McCaskill should be about.
“I’ve answered this question repeatedly,” Akin said. “I don’t believe this election overall is about talk.”
McCaskill, who was considered vulnerable in her bid for re-election before Akin made the comments about rape, said his remarks were an indication her rival was on the “fringe.”
“This election’s going to be quite a contrast for Missourians,” McCaskill said. “But not because we’re at opposite ends. I’m right in the middle, it’s just he is so far out on the fringe, and that’s where the contrast comes.”
Akin’s controversial comments, she said, were a “window to his views for Missourians.”
“I believe his view is extreme and out of the mainstream,” she continued, adding: “It’s not what he said that’s the problem, it’s what he believes that’s the problem.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, who is also a U.S. Senator from Washington, referred to the Thursday remark as “another comment that’s demeaning to women and offensive to all.”
“What’s truly astonishing is that the national party embraced Todd Akin yesterday and now refuses to repudiate his statement,” Murray wrote in a statement. “Unless the national party condemns Todd Akin and his latest comments, every Republican candidate in the country will be held accountable for their support of Akin’s beliefs and sentiments.”
In August, Akin told a local television station that pregnancy was rare in cases of “legitimate rape,” claiming a woman’s body has mechanisms to “shut that whole thing down.”
Democrats slammed Akin for the remarks, and some national Republicans, including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, encouraged Akin to withdraw from his Senate bid.
In recent days, however, prominent Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, have come out in support of Akin.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee had originally planned to withdraw financial support for Akin, but a Wednesday statement from the group’s executive director said the NRSC would be watching the race.
“As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead,” Rob Jesmer said in a statement.