JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Shunned by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin instead turned Tuesday to former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich to help raise his profile and cash in the closing week of his campaign against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Gingrich was appearing with Akin at a pair of Kansas City area fundraisers and touring a packaging business Tuesday, then rallying with Akin on Wednesday in a series of events intended to draw public attention and private contributions to fuel advertising for the final days before the Nov. 6 election.
McCaskill, whose mother died Monday, had no campaign events scheduled but has continued to wage an aggressive TV advertising battle against Akin. Finance reports analyzed Tuesday by The Associated Press show McCaskill, who already held a cash advantage, has drawn more four-figure donations than Akin in the final days of their campaign.
Missouri's Senate seat had long been considered one of several toss-ups nationwide as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of the chamber. But Romney and many deep-pocketed fundraising groups that aid Republicans abandoned Akin after he remarked in an August TV interview that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in "legitimate rape."
Akin apologized and forged forward with a re-tooled campaign that relied more on an anti-establishment message and small-dollar donations. Gingrich was the first prominent Republican to headline a fundraiser for Akin after the rape remark, appearing at a St. Louis area event in September as it became clear that Akin would not drop out of the Senate race. Akin also has been aided by former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has appeared in TV ads for Akin.
The Gingrich fundraisers Tuesday were not high-dollar affairs. Tickets for a "power lunch" were listed online at $50 per person, and $40 each for an evening "dessert social" at a suburban golf club.
Akin has not had enough money to match McCaskill dollar-for-dollar in advertising. Finance reports showed that McCaskill had about $2.1 million in her campaign account at the start of October, compared with about $550,000 for Akin.
McCaskill has continued to raise more large-dollar donations than Akin since Oct. 18, when candidates were required by the Federal Election Commission to start filing reports on every contribution of at least $1,000, within 48 hours of receiving it.
In a six-day period, McCaskill received more than $115,000 in large donations while Akin received about $82,000, according to an AP analysis. Both candidates got a majority of that money from out-of-state donors. McCaskill's contributors included Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of moviemaker Dreamworks Animation SKG, who with his wife gave a total of $5,000. Akin's contributors included the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Conservative Strike Force and the Veterans Victory Fund, which gave $5,000 each.