Washington, D.C. — The National Rifle Association on Monday threw its weight behind Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's improbable campaign to oust Sen. Claire McCaskill, arguing he will help protect America's "hunting heritage."
The NRA's endorsement comes even as many Republicans have distanced themselves from Akin and despite his focus on social issues, such as abortion, and not gun rights.
“Todd Akin has a proven record of defending the Second Amendment,” Chris W. Cox, the chairman of the NRA, said in a statement released by Akin's campaign.
“The choice is clear in this election," the statement continued. "Todd Akin will support our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage. Claire McCaskill will not. We urge all NRA members and gun owners in Missouri to vote Todd Akin for U.S. Senate on November 6.”
In the same statement, Akin heralded the endorsement as a reflection of his conservative values, especially in contrast to McCaskill's policies.
"I am honored to receive this endorsement from the NRA," Akin said. "The right to keep and bear arms is something that I am deeply committed to, while my opponent has consistently opposed gun rights."
He added, "I've been endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau and now the NRA, which shows that my record is in step with most Missourians. Claire McCaskill is a liberal's liberal...McCaskill's record would fit better in California or New York than in Missouri."
The NRA's backing is a massive boon for Akin, who, strategists agree, will need donors to step up within the next week if he hopes to keep his race against McCaskill competitive.
Recent polls have shown Akin trailing McCaskill by roughly six points, and last week McCaskill posted a massive third-quarter fundraising total of $5.8 million.
Akin has struggled to raise money since he said women's bodies have a mechanism for preventing pregnancies in the case of "legitimate rape." In light of that remark, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Karl Rove said they would not back Akin financially.