COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – The first debate of Missouri’s U.S. Senate candidates proves to be mostly cordial.

Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, Republican challenger Todd Akin and Libertarian candidate Jonathan Dine debated Friday at the Missouri Press Association conference in Columbia.

It marked the first time during the campaign that McCaskill and Akin shared a stage. The two shook hands and smiled before and after the debate and avoided interrupting each other.

Akin set off a firestorm last month with his comments about what he called “legitimate rape.” During the debate, he said the race is not about words but about whether voters want big or small government.

McCaskill said Akin’s words were a window into his beliefs that she called extreme.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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