McCaskill: Debates neglect rural issues

Friday, July 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Gubernatorial candidate Claire McCaskill wants to take debates with Gov. Bob Holden out of the big cities and into Missouri’s smaller towns in the days leading up to the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.

In a conference call Thursday, McCaskill said debates in rural Missouri will address issues that were neglected in debates earlier this week, which were held in Kansas City and St. Louis. McCaskill said the debates did not address issues pertinent to outstate Missouri — defined as rural areas in the state — such as agriculture, ethanol, transportation for school districts and Medicaid recipients who have limited options in receiving services.

“For too long the Democratic party has believed there are no Democrats outside of Kansas City and St. Louis,” McCaskill said. “I have been there and I know how many there are.”

She said a Springfield news channel had taped separate interviews with Holden and McCaskill and plans to run them together in lieu of a debate on Wednesday. McCaskill wants Holden to go to Springfield and debate that day.

Caleb Weaver, spokesman for Holden for Governor, does not foresee another debate taking place in the 12 days before the primary. He said many Democrats will be distracted by the Democratic National Convention next week.

“It’s hard to entertain how another debate would come together,” Weaver said.

As far as debates in larger cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis neglecting rural communities, Weaver said that isn’t an issue because small stations across the state picked up the debates.

“We try to select venues where people all across the state could see it,” he said.

McCaskill wants to have as many debates as possible, she said, not only because debates are part of the foundation of a Democratic society, but to bridge the gap between rural and urban Missouri.

Weaver said Holden has spent plenty of time traveling throughout the state and visiting communities of all sizes during his time in office.

“For four years Bob Holden has been answering the press’ questions and the people’s questions,” Weaver said. “I think they have a pretty good idea where he stands.”

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