Reported with Coral Davenport
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri remains an underdog in her reelection, but she got the opponent she wanted in GOP Rep. Todd Akin.
McCaskill had said she would label whatever Republican candidate won Tuesday's Missouri GOP Senate primary as an extremist, but she and her campaign clearly believe Akin gives them their best chance to do so successfully.
(RELATED: Akin Wins in an Upset in Mo.)
After months of attacks from state opponents and national Republican groups, McCaskill says she is eager to focus on one target and to paint the Republican that emerges as a tea-party extremist.
"I'm looking forward to having a candidate that I can define the way they've been trying to define me since October," McCaskill said recently. "I'm looking forward to being able to have a contrast instead of a referendum."
McCaskill denied that she faces the country's tightest Senate race. She described hers as one of the three to five closest. But most independent observers say that she starts the general election phase of her bid for a second term as the Senate's most endangered incumbent.
Polls have showed McCaskill trailing Akin though she polls closer to him than she did against businessman John Brunner and former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who Akin edged Tuesday.
McCaskill and the Democrats prefered to face Akin: Her campaign committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have run television ads calling him the race's "most conservative" candidate, a critical ad seemed aimed at boosting Akin with GOP primary voters.
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