FESTUS, Mo. | An aide to GOP Senate hopeful Todd Akin used profanity to refer to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, extending Akin's weekend characterization of McCaskill as a "dog" who fetches problems from Washington.
At a Saturday night fundraiser, Akin likened McCaskill to a "dog" who plays "fetch" by bringing home red tape, bureaucracy and executive orders from Washington.
On Monday, senior campaign adviser Ricky Tyler tweeted, "If Claire McCaskill were a dog, she'd be a 'Bullshitsu.' "
Tyler, reached by telephone, said, "It was a joke. Get it?" He said the focus should be on real issues such as the rising debt and stimulus money going to McCaskill's family.
After the initial "dog" comment, McCaskill responded Monday by saying her campaign strategy with two weeks to go is to "just keep Todd Akin talking." After learning of the Tyler tweet, McCaskill campaign spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said, "We'll leave it to Missouri's voters to make judgments about the language being used by Todd Akin's campaign. But I think Claire said this morning that their recent tone has certainly been disappointing."
The PoliticMo.com website recorded Akin's comments at the fundraiser.
"She goes to Washington, D.C., and it's a little bit like, you know, one of those dog (games), 'fetch,'" Akin said.
He said McCaskill "gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and she brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri. And it seems to me that she's got it just backwards. What we should be doing is taking the common sense that we see in Missouri and taking that to Washington, D.C., and blessing them with some solutions instead of more problems."
McCaskill, at a campaign event in Festus, Mo., said her campaign strategy in the two weeks left before Election Day is to "just keep Todd Akin talking."
Her campaign sent out an email to reporters titled: "Akin continues to offend women, anyone else with a sense of decency."
"We were planning to send out one of our usual '35 Days, 35 Ways' press releases, but Todd Akin did the work for us when he compared Claire to a dog in Springfield last night," the e-mail said.
Akin and McCaskill are locked in a fierce battle for the Senate, with Republicans searching for the four seats the party needs to win the Senate majority on Nov. 6. That goal, once considered attainable, has grown more uncertain in part because of Akin's remark that women's bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." The comment improved McCaskill's odds, too. She was at one time considered the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for re-election.
Akin has apologized repeatedly for the rape comment and defied calls to leave the race by leaders of his own party, from GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on down. Some Missouri Republican leaders and other senators not up for re-election this year have helped Akin raise campaign cash.
McCaskill met with several dozen supporters Monday morning in Festus, Mo., about 30 miles south of St. Louis, as she launched a rural get-out-the-vote effort. She did not directly address the dog comment during her 10-minute speech but did allude to Akin's tendency to say things some deem outrageous.
In an interview with media after the event, she called Akin's dog remark, "unfortunate," and refused further comment.
Akin also has gotten in trouble with women voters for saying McCaskill's behavior during a recent debate was not "ladylike."
Despite Akin's gaffes the race is believed to be close. Missouri in recent years has grown increasingly conservative — especially in rural areas of the state — and opponents have tied her closely to President Barack Obama. She was an early supporter of the president.
McCaskill has campaigned as a moderate who has often worked with Republicans on bills such as one she co-sponsored that would make it harder to close rural post offices.
Akin had no public campaign events Monday but issued a written statement calling on McCaskill to disclose details of a business deal involving federal tax credits that her husband, Joseph Shepard, allegedly closed in the Senate dining room. Akin's statement referenced a report last week by the online publication, The Daily Caller, about an audio recording in which one of Shepard's former employees, by Craig Woods, discusses Shepard's business deals involving low-income housing developments financed in part through tax credits.
McCaskill's campaign has described Woods as a disgruntled former employee who lied to Shepard about his past criminal convictions involving fraud and embezzlement and dismissed his accusations as meritless.
On Monday, Akin described Woods as a "whistleblower."
"If Shepard was making business deals in the Senate dining room, that is a clear abuse of power and privilege," Akin said.
McCaskill said, "It's October and I'm running for office and two things happen: The leaves change and they unfairly attack my husband."