McCaskill to 'Dumb' Abortion Activists: 'Shut Up'

December 20, 2018

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) took part in an interview for Thursday's episode of "The Daily" podcast where she blamed "irritating" abortion activists for stymieing her reelection efforts.

The outgoing senator erupted in frustration after New York Times correspondent Sabrina Tavernise mentioned her perceived lack of support for abortion. Tavernise cited several anonymous Democratic activists who had been lukewarm in their support for McCaskill's campaign, blaming her insufficiently pro-choice views. McCaskill lost to Republican Josh Hawley, who has been vocally pro-life.

"My voting record is perfect," McCaskill said. "Shame on them if they don't know my voting record, and shame on them if they're not working as hard as they can for me and not trashing me because of my voting record in a hard state."

McCaskill ventured a guess as to the identities of the unnamed critics with whom the Times had spoken. "I think the people you talk to, I'm willing to bet I could probably name three or four of them, are young women who have not spent any time outside of the group of people that agree with them," she said. They "probably don't understand that Trump's success had a whole lot to do with economic angst," and a successful Democratic candidate could ill afford to "ignore ... the meat and potatoes" issues, she said.

The Times podcast hosts asked if McCaskill had a message for the critics.

"Shut up!" she said. "I have been standing in the breach for women's rights as it relates to reproductive freedom for all of my adult life." She reproached the activists for their ignorance of her apodictic record defending abortion. "And the fact that these young women didn't realize that and just be quiet, roll up their sleeves, and work their ass off for me, was beyond irritating, can you tell?"

"I can tell," one of the hosts replied.

The Missouri Democrat told the unnamed malcontents to "get out there and work and reelect her and quit complaining," because her opponent was far more threatening to their agenda. "Josh Hawley thinks the morning-after pill should be illegal. He has said publicly he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade," she said.

McCaskill has generally supported abortion rights, though with some limitations and reservations. In 2006, she supported a ban on partial birth abortions. In November 2018, she defended the Hyde Amendment, which would restrict Medicaid funds from covering abortions. Nevertheless, she has a 100 percent alignment rating from Planned Parenthood Action.

"So to me there was a huge difference in the two of us," McCaskill said. "And the fact they didn't appreciate that difference, and they were willing to be critical that I wasn't talking about it enough? Dumb."

Hawley is set to become Missouri's junior senator in January 2019.