McCaskill speaks to MU students during a town hall meeting

In this Missourian file photo, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks to MU students during a town hall meeting Jan. 26 in Jesse Wrench Auditorium. The meeting was hosted by Mizzou College Democrats. On Tuesday, McCaskill visited campus again as part of a voter registration drive.

Claire McCaskill anticipates a close race for U.S. Senate this November.

The Democratic incumbent visited campus Tuesday for a voter registration drive and rally hosted by the Mizzou College Democrats. McCaskill, who attended MU for her undergraduate degree, spoke to a room of about 100.

“I will not be shocked if this election is decided by the number of people in this room,” she said.

McCaskill is widely seen as vulnerable in a state that favored Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. She faces Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

A recent Marist/NBC news poll reported that, as of this month, 46 percent of Missouri registered voters said they plan to vote for McCaskill and 47 percent plan to vote for Hawley.

Students asked her questions, and their main focus was how she would attract moderate and swing voters.

“If you don’t get distracted by the records that make it look like I’m shining Chuck Schumer’s shoes and doing Nancy Pelosi’s hair,” she said, “you’ll figure out that I am one of the ones who is desperately trying to build up the middle. Because you know what happens when we stand up on opposite sides of the room and yell at each other? People get cynical about government. And you know what happens when we get cynical about government? A reality TV star gets elected president.”

The audience also asked about the upcoming vote on potential Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“No matter what I do, it’s not great,” McCaskill said. “Welcome to representing Missouri. No matter how you vote, half the people will be mad at you. So it does kind of free you up and toughen you up to take votes that a large number of people may be unhappy with because our state is divided that way.”

McCaskill also said she wanted to make sure the Affordable Care Act — part of which mandated people without insurance buy it — stayed intact.

“In the old days, you couldn’t get insurance unless you had insurance at work,” she said. “So people were staying in jobs they didn’t want to stay in. They were looking for jobs on the basis of how they could get health insurance. If they had a successful small business and they wanted to keep it, they couldn’t find insurance if they’d beaten breast cancer, for example, or if they had diabetes because nobody would write insurance for them.”

Samantha Norman, a sophomore journalism major, said she liked how McCaskill seemed willing to work with people whether they were Republican or Democrat.

“She’s willing to meet in the middle,” Norman said. “With Missouri being a predominantly red state, I think it’s super-important that she realizes that and that she can see that if she wants to get anything done.”

Ben Ridder, a freshmen political science major and self-professed swing voter, said he hasn’t yet made up his mind about the vote in November.

“The vote in nine days on Judge Kavanaugh is going to influence me strongly one way or another,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that’s the one and only litmus test, but I do think it really is going to mean something to me.”

Ridder said if McCaskill votes “yes” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, he’ll research more of her policies and will consider voting for her.

Supervising editor is Sky Chadde:, 882-5720.

  • Fall 2018 public life reporter. I am a junior studying data journalism and international studies. Reach me at or on Twitter @clareeroth.

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