"I like a lot of aspects, but you shouldn't package food stamps in a Farm Bill," Akin said outside Greene County Republican Headquarters in Springfield Thursday.
"I think his opposition has been much larger than the food stamp program," McCaskill countered Friday. "When we had thousands of acres under water in Northwest Missouri last year, and (Republican Senator) Roy Blunt and I joined together to get specific disaster relief for those farmers, there were no food stamps in that bill, and he voted no."
McCaskill went on to explain her understanding of why "food stamps" and "Farm Bill" are connected in Congress.
"On the House side, you have representatives who just represent rural areas, and some who just represent cities," she said. "A long time ago, they put the two together to assist getting both bills through in a way that is non-controversial."
Akin's criticism of McCaskill is equally as direct.
"Some of her positions are so indefensible, I'm surprised she'd bring them up," he said. "I believe government is too big, trying to do too many things. I believe we need a balanced budget, pay down the deficit. I don't believe we need a major tax increase."
Instead of side-stepping in response to the latest anti-Akin ad using his characterization of federal programs, including student loans, as a "stage three cancer," Akin owned it.
"What do you call it when the government is gobbling up so many aspects of our life?" he asked reporters Thursday, referring mostly to the Affordable Care Act, but other programs as well. "The government will not manage these things well. We've seen the pattern of it, and if you can't see it here, you can see it in Europe."
However, McCaskill is clearly trying to convince Missouri voters that Akin's positions go beyond what most Missourians want.
"The insulting thing is, that he would stand in front of a train to cut taxes for people who make more than a million dollars a year," she said, "while he cuts out lunch programs for hungry kids."
Akin, who Thursday reiterated that he wants to see the federal government completely out of the school system, including the federal school lunch program, frames it differently: "We are over taxing the people who work, and over paying the people who don't work."
McCaskill said Friday that it is her belief that it is not that simple. "I honestly don't think our kids who are coming to school hungry are the ones not working hard enough," she said. "Does he expect them to go out and get a job to pay for lunch in the second grade?"
McCaskill is betting her Senate seat that Akin's views are not mainstream in Missouri. She may have been right at one time, but in 2012, that is very far from a sure thing, and possibly wrong entirely. Polls show her trailing Akin badly right now.
However, with eleven weeks to go, even Akin knows the campaign is still in the "get to know you" stage."McCaskill's going to try and show I'm weird," he said, grinning. "But I'm an engineer. We're boring."
Perhaps, but this race is anything but.
(*IRL-In Real Life)