Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says she welcomes Republican Josh Hawley to the U.S. Senate race, but the incumbent Democrat has a lot of questions for Hawley.
The GOP primary for Senate isn’t until next year, but Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, is taking aim at Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, painting Hawley as a pawn of the unpopular Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
“I congratulate Mitch McConnell,” says McCaskill. “He got his candidate. Mitch McConnell has worked very hard. I believe Josh Hawley has spent more time talking to the insiders in Washington the last four months than he has Missourians,” says McCaskill.
Hawley officially announced his candidacy this week with strong support from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and McConnell. The conservative news site Breitbart published an article promoting Hawley as a unifying candidate but painting McConnell as someone justly coming in for a lot of scrutiny.
Senator McCaskill says that while Hawley has been courting opposing camps in the Republican Party, she has been fielding all kinds of questions from Missouri voters at 45 town hall meetings around the state.
“Meanwhile he hasn’t answered any questions. He won’t answer whether he’s for repeal and replace. He won’t answer questions about DACA,” says McCaskill, of Hawley. “He hasn’t answered a question about this tax plan.”
McCaskill says lambasts the Republican tax cut framework as a gift to the richest Americans. She says stripping away personal exemptions would raise taxes for families with more than one dependent child.
“I call it the Trump one child policy. Which is ironic since they’re trying to take away birth control at the same time,” says McCaskill.
The Trump administration is allowing employers to opt out of paying for birth control coverage on religious grounds.
Hawley accuses McCaskill, who’s running for a third Senate term, of being out of touch with Missouri. This summer he penned an op-ed for Fox News claiming that the current tax structure primarily helps special interests in Washington. He also called for a tax system overhaul along the lines of the one proposed by President Trump.
At the forum in Independence Tuesday, McCaskill criticized Trump for sending “mixed signals” on foreign policy. She says that she is relying on Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“I hope and pray that Secretary Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson and General Kelly stay put. I would worry greatly if they left the White House,” adds McCaskill, quietly.
That said, McCaskill insists that she’s not trying to pick any fights with the President.
Frank Morris is a national correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.