4:48am

Tue August 21, 2012
Around the Nation

Missouri Voters Haven't All Abandoned Rep. Akin

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 9:01 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, we just heard some prominent Republicans speaking out on the Akin situation. We wanted to know how voters are feeling in Akin's state of Missouri.

Here's Tim Lloyd of St. Louis Public Radio.

TIM LLOYD, BYLINE: About a mile from where Todd Akin thanked God for a surprise primary victory on August 7th, Rheudeana Ferguson is shopping with her mom at a road side produce stand. She voted for Akin when he was an underdog in the primary, and what he said Sunday morning hasn't changed how she feels.

RHEUDEANA FERGUSON: He is our best choice. He is the one that I think can get Missouri back on track.

LLOYD: Standing next to rows of homegrown tomatoes and apples, she says the media twisted Akin's words. And her mom, Dona Ferguson, says Akin's strong anti-abortion stance lines up with her own beliefs.

DONA FERGUSON: I don't believe in abortion at all. A baby is not a choice. It's a baby from the beginning.

LLOYD: Not everyone around here shares that level of support for Akin. Chris Braudis works in healthcare in St. Charles, a big suburban chunk of Akin's congressional district.

CHRIS BRAUDIS: After the last couple days and the interview that he did, I'm not feeling really good about his chances.

LLOYD: There's some talk that he might withdraw.

BRAUDIS: I would hope so. I really think that would be the best thing to do for the party, and to have a good chance to beat Claire McCaskill, put somebody else in there.

LLOYD: But Akin says he's not going to dropout. So what does this mean for independent voters? Attorney Rand Scopel is wearing a dark three-piece suit after a long day in court. He says Akin hasn't necessarily lost his vote, but he'd like to see him focus more on the economy and a whole lot less on socially conservative issues.

RAND SCOPEL: My wife's reaction was, oh my God, what is he saying?

(LAUGHTER)

SCOPEL: And why is he saying that? And that was kind of my reaction as well. That was at best a very poor choice of words.

LLOYD: As Republicans and independents parse out how, or if, Akin's comments on Sunday morning will affect their vote, Democrats are quietly excited.

At the bank of the Missouri River, cicadas are humming near the historic district in St. Charles, Missouri.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLES)

LLOYD: Cars glide down a brick street as tourists pop in and out of quaint little shops. Vicki Erwin, a Democrat, runs Main Street Books, and first heard about Akin's comments when her daughter called her from Maine.

VICKI ERWIN: And when she read to me the quote of what he had to say, I was speechless. I was speechless. And then I thought Claire McCaskill was right to celebrate when he won the primary.

LLOYD: McCaskill, who is running against Akin, did not openly celebrate his surprise victory in the Republic primary just a few weeks ago. The closest she came to that was telling reporters she was, quote, "relieved." But many political observers have suggested this is exactly the matchup she was looking for. So much so that during the Republican primary she paid for an ad that called Akin too conservative, then rattled off a handful of Tea Party selling points.

At a campaign stop yesterday afternoon, McCaskill went out of her way to defend Akin.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: This is a man who's sincere. I honestly do have sympathy for him, because I think that there is some big people in the party that are trying to pull the rug out from underneath Missouri voters. He won his race fair and square.

LLOYD: She says Akin did not hand her the election with his controversial remarks, and expects a tough road back to the Senate. For NPR News, I'm Tim Lloyd in St. Louis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.