Congressional Primaries Draw Focus from Washington

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With November creeping ever closer, the campaigns of the two contenders for the Oval Office have punctuated their efforts to raise exorbitant amounts of money with vicious attacks on each other's candidates. This July, the Romney campaign out-raised President Obama's by a score of $101 million to $75 million, marking the third month in a row that GOP candidate Mitt Romney has done so. 

In the meantime, the Republican challenger has been accused by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of not having paid income taxes for years. The claims are unsubstantiated, but have succeeded in rallying both supporters and opponents of Romney to their respective banners. 

"I've known Sen. Reid for many, many years, and occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior," Senator John McCain said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "To accuse someone of doing something without a shred of proof that the allegation has any substance is really something I, frankly, don't understand."

Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich weighs in on what Reid's thinking could be. "In the world of bare-knuckled politics which soft-spoken Harry Reid is famous for, [Romney] is still talking about his taxes," he says. "Harry Reid's sitting fine in the Senate, [while] Mitt Romney's still answering questions about his unreleased tax returns — mission accomplished." 

Meanwhile, beyond the Beltway, several primaries in the coming weeks will steal the spotlight, however briefly, from Washington, D.C. One notable race is Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill's push to keep her seat in Missouri. It brings three Republican contenders vying for position in a contest whose outcome could change the face of the Senate.

Zwillich discusses her strategy of running attack ads against contender, Republican Todd Akin, that portrayed him as being "way too conservative for Missouri." Those ads, Zwillich says, helped Aiken increase his credibility with conservative voters and contributed to Aiken's victory in a field of three.

"She thinks that running against him is the only shot she has to stay," Zwillich says. "He is very, very conservative, and she tried running ads in a way that helped him to get him in there so that she can run against him."