Trump-State Dems Tell Voters They’re ‘Right in the Middle’

McCaskill, Donnelly pitch bipartisanship ahead of Bernie Sanders visit to region

Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill

Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill / Getty Images

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Democratic senators Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) both told voters over the weekend that they were right in the "middle" of the two parties as they gear up to defend their seats in states Republican President Donald Trump won by 20 points.

Donnelly officially launched his campaign over the weekend, telling Indiana voters he doesn't work for the "far left or far right" and just tries "to hit the ball down the middle." Meanwhile, McCaskill was at town halls telling Missouri voters that "right in the middle" is the accurate way to describe her, and that she is a "believer in compromise" with an "independent streak."

Donnelly and McCaskill are consistently rated the two most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in 2018 given Trump's margin of victory in last November's election.

Both are pinning their reelection hopes on branding themselves as centrists.

Donnelly is branding himself as the most bipartisan Democrat in Congress for his 2018 reelection effort in Indiana, where Trump won by about 524,267 votes. McCaskill has been on a town hall swing through the most conservative parts of Missouri, where Trump won by 530,864 votes.

The attempts come as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.) visits the Midwest to pitch his view of where the Democratic Party should go.

Sanders is starting his trip to the region with a Monday speech in Donnelly's backyard on jobs and the economy. He plans to push his proposal for a $15 minimum wage and single-payer health care, two ideas opposed by Donnelly and McCaskill.

Sanders will also reportedly speak out against outsourcing, just months after Donnelly came under fire for investing in a family-owned company that recently outsourced jobs to Mexico.

Both Donnelly and McCaskill supported Hillary Clinton in her Democratic primary fight with Sanders. McCaskill said Sanders was "too liberal" and "extreme" to be president.

Democratic officials have become alarmed that Sanders's support of candidates could challenge incumbent senators who present themselves as centrists. McCaskill already has a challenger.

Sanders called out Donnelly earlier this year when he voted with Republicans to block an amendment that Sanders wrote, labeling Donnelly's vote disappointing.

Sanders carried Indiana in the state's Democratic primary battle. He narrowly fell in Missouri.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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