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FESTUS, Mo. (AP) — An aide to Todd Akin on Monday used a profanity in a tweet to extend the GOP Senate hopeful's weekend analogy comparing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill to a "dog" who fetches problems from Washington. Meanwhile, McCaskill launched a campaign tour with a series of small-town stops aimed at improving her showing in rural Missouri.

"She goes to Washington, D.C., and it's a little bit like, you know, one of those dog (games), 'fetch,'" Akin said at a Saturday night fundraiser, in comments recorded by the web site.

"She goes to Washington, D.C., and 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," Akin added. "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 rally of supporters in Festus, Mo., didn't address the dog comment but said her campaign strategy for the final two weeks before the election is to "just keep Todd Akin talking." Afterward, she told reporters the comment was "unfortunate."

Later Monday, Akin senior campaign adviser Rick 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. That was a reference to an earlier Associated Press story that found that businesses affiliated with McCaskill's husband had received almost $40 million of federal housing subsidies during her first five years in office.

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."

Her campaign cited the dog comment in an email to reporters titled: "Akin continues to offend women, anyone else with a sense of decency."

Akin and McCaskill are locked in a fierce battle, 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.

Akin also has gotten in trouble with some 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 McCaskill closely to President Barack Obama. She was an early supporter of the president.

McCaskill spent Monday in towns like Festus, Ironton, Eminence and Mountain Grove, trying to make inroads into the rural areas of the state where Democrats tend to do poorly.

McCaskill, a former prosecutor in Kansas City and state auditor, narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Jim Talent in 2006 thanks to overwhelming support in St. Louis and Kansas City. She carried only about 40 percent of the rural vote in that election.

She is campaigning 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.

"I think it's really important that we focus on the economic security of the middle class families in rural Missouri," McCaskill said.

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, Craig Woods, discusses Shepard's business deals involving low-income housing developments financed in part through tax credits.

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'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. Legacki said the conversations described by Woods in the audio recording never occurred.

McCaskill said, "It's October and I'm running for office and two things happen: The leaves change and they unfairly attack my husband."


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