Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Miss.) had a closing message for Missouri’s voters this week: don’t be like Arkansas.
Speaking to supporters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, McCaskill explained the potential impact of Tuesday’s election. If she loses, she said, they will "probably get written off as a bright red state," a Republican state. "I don’t want to be Arkansas, how about you?" she asked.
McCaskill is running against Republican Josh Hawley, the state's attorney general who described her as "too liberal" for the state. McCaskill opposed both of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court picks, voting ‘no’ on Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
McCaskill, who trails Hawley in the polls, has moved towards the center in an effort to appeal to moderate voters. She said she supports the president "100 percent" on securing the border. She also said in a radio commercial that she isn’t one of the "crazy Democrats," distancing herself from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). The comment prompted outrage from members of her party, including within Missouri.
Responding to her ad during a rally with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Hawley said, "McCaskill says she's not one of those ‘crazy Democrats,' but she votes with them all the time." Graham blamed her in part for the treatment Kavanaugh received from Democrats during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. "Claire was not there when she should have been there," Graham said. "The most disturbing thing to me was the deafening silence. It's not how you vote that bothers me as much as what you didn't do."
Before disparaging Arkansas, McCaskill also dismissed voters from the most rural parts of her state. She told supporters during the campaign that she could afford to lose voters from the "bootheel" part of the state if the liberal cities sufficiently turned out on election day. In response the video, which surfaced in October, Hawley said: "we don't write off any part of the state. That's a big difference between my opponent and myself. She has been caught on tape saying she is willing to give up votes in rural Missouri."
McCaskill’s comments about Arkansas are odd, considering her and Arkansas’ electoral history. Though both current senators from Arkansas, Tom Cotton and John Boozman, are Republican, Democrats held both seats as recently as 2010, when Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln were in office. McCaskill, who first joined the Senate in 2007, served alongside both for several years. Lincoln subsequently lost to Boozman in 2010, and Pryor to Cotton in 2014.