This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2012 - Focusing on energy, economics and the environment, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin suggested today that the Environmental Protection Agency “needs to be changed significantly’’ and “redesigned.’’
Akin, a congressman from Wildwood, said that the EPA was bent on “shutting down the coal industry,’’ which he said could lead to higher energy prices in Missouri.
Akin was joined by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., at a news conference in south St. Louis County. Both contended that Akin’s target – U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. – opposed fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.
Inhofe disputed McCaskill’s longstanding assertion that she’s against “cap and trade” – a practice aimed at reducing harmful energy emissions – and cited her votes against measures to bar the EPA from policing carbon emissions, which most scientists say is tied to climate change.
Inhofe, who has said global warming is a hoax, joined Akin in calling for more oil drilling and coal mining. Both asserted that McCaskill’s re-election could lead to higher energy prices. They were accompanied by Blake Hurst, a farmer and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, which has endorsed Akin.
Ihofe also was to tour a defense-related firm later today, and was to headline a private fundraising event downtown for Akin, who has raised far less than McCaskill and needs to money to counter her hefty ad buys.
Akin deflected questions about comment in August about “legitimate rape.’’ He said only that he thought that women are more concerned about his stands on non-social issues like energy, taxes and the economy.
“I’ve taken a straw poll in my mind,’’ the congressman said. “The people that come to the meetings, more than half of them are women. So I’m saying they’re understanding the fact that getting this economy going … putting more jobs out there and trying to deal with an absolutely runaway deficit. Those are issues that affect everybody.”
Women also made up the majority of those at weekend campaign events for McCaskill, who also launched a new TV ad Monday that features women who call Akin “scary.”
The message at McCaskill’s Sunday event in St. Louis was primarily aimed at women and reproductive rights. “I thought this conversation was settled,’’ said lawyer Jane Dueker, who was speaking on McCaskill’s behalf. “I feel women are being discriminated against.”
The event included comments from a rape survivor, Joanie Stewart, who also has been featured in at least one McCaskill ad. Stewart was assaulted and beaten in 1991 and said that at the time there was no emergency contraception available to prevent pregnancy. "That's something I cannot understand, that Todd Akin would deny that to women,'' Stewart said, referring to Akin's statements in favor of outlawing emergency contraception.
Although McCaskill did visit a couple campaign offices on Saturday, she has primarily been at a local hospital with her ailing 84-year-old mother and relatives. She told reporters Saturday that her mother is dying from cardio-renal failure.
(UPDATE) Campaigning Monday afternoon on McCaskill's behalf was St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, who showed up outside the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners' headquarters in Maplewood.
Dooley's message: absentee ballot turnout thus far was promising for McCaskill and other Democratic candidates. Missouri doesn't have registration by political party, so Dooley's observations are based on speculation.
“I think the enthusiasm is high,” said Dooley, noting that he’s heard reports that tens of thousands have already cast absentee ballots thus far. “So people are voting. Early voting is going to make a difference in Missouri … and for Claire McCaskill. Those early voters are for Claire – we just know that.”
He then turned to the line of people outside the Board of Elections headquarters and said “look at them!”
“Every vote is important,” Dooley added. “That’s why we’re here talking about voting early. Get it out the way. And make sure when you vote, your family members votes, your neighbors votes, your community votes, your people in your jobs vote. Voting is essential.” (End of update)
Jason Rosenbaum of the Beacon staff contributed to this article.