McCaskill Uses the Oscars to Slam Republican Challenger

Sen. Claire McCaskill / Getty Images
March 5, 2018

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) used Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony to attack her leading Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is vying to unseat her in November.

McCaskill posted a photo from an Oscar-viewing party of herself and her campaign staff dressed up in costumes from the award-winning drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In the photo, McCaskill is standing in sheriff's garb next to three "billboards," held by her campaign staffers, that read "Climbing Ladders + Breaking Promises," "And Still Running for Office," and "How Come Missouri GOP?" in an apparent attack on Hawley.

The billboards reference Hawley's declaration in 2016 while running for attorney general that he had no plans to run for higher office. Hawley reversed course in October after several other high-profile Republicans, like Rep. Ann Wagner (Mo.), passed on running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by McCaskill.

McCaskill's attack on Hawley reflects what will likely be a chief component of her campaign strategy for the general election. The incumbent senator has sought to paint Hawley as an overly ambitious office seeker.

McCaskill's tweet comes at a difficult time for the senator. In November, it became public that McCaskill took action to hide her use of her family's private plane at taxpayer expense, according to documents obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration. In January, a Morning Consult poll found that McCaskill's net approval rating dropped by nearly 10 points in the past year. Last month, a Missouri Democratic state representative publicly warned McCaskill not to take the African-American vote for granted in her reelection bid.

McCaskill is running for reelection in a state that President Donald Trump carried by about 19 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016. During the same election cycle, Hawley easily defeated his Democratic opponent by a similar margin.