Sen. Claire McCaskill and Congressman Todd Akin duked it out at a Clayton high school, near St. Louis, trying to convince Missouri voters to side with each of them.

Akin says McCaskill is just voting lockstep with President Obama’s proposals to increase spending and grow government, what he called “choking out freedom,” and McCaskill painted herself the moderate, telling the crowd she works with members of both parties to reach compromise and pass meaningful legislation.

Both candidates used hot-botton issues against their opponent in efforts to woo undecided voters. Akin repeatedly pointed to the healthcare mandate, which he says McCaskill voted for even though Missourians rejected the measure by a vote of 70 percent. He also says she supports over-regulation by federal agencies and supports bureaucracy and government red tape.

McCaskill, while she didn’t specifically bring up Akin’s comments on rape and abortion that have received national attention, focused on women’s issues. She says he would criminalize abortion and limit women’s access to reproductive care. Another platform McCaskill has pushed throughout her time in Washington is her aversion to earmarks. She says Akin has participated in pork-barrel politics, claiming he thinks it’s a constitutional right to procure funds for pet projects just because of “who you know.” She says that process is adding to out-of-control spending, and says she is a fiscally conservative member of the Senate.

Akin’s strategy links McCaskill to President Barack Obama’s policies; McCaskill says Akin’s female staff earns more than 20 percent less than their male counterparts.

Recent polls show a variance of McCaskill leading Akin by 14 points to almost an even race … The St. Louis Post Dispatch poll shows her leading by nine points.

Political analysts say while the electorate is largely focused on the economy this election cycle, democrats throughout the United States are using Akin’s mis-step in saying legitimate rapes rarely result in pregnancy against conservative candidates. They’re hoping to garner the vote from moderate republican women voters who might be uncomfortable with Akin’s hardline stance against abortion.