Former Sen. Claire McCaskill stood at the microphone at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Center for Missouri Studies in the new State Historical Society building explaining to the audience how she first met Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

She said she had railed against an appropriation for Blunt and Sen. Bill Webster for branch offices across the state.

The next morning, McCaskill said, two people visited her office. First, Blunt came to kindly explain why he needed an office in Kansas City. Then, 20 minutes later, a young man came with a message from Sen. Dick Webster, father of Bill Webster: “Every piece of legislation you touch is dead; it will not pass.”

“That was my introduction to someone who wielded power like a two-by-four,” McCaskill said. “And someone who had finesse and understood that power with a velvet glove usually ends up being much more powerful. And that was my friend Roy Blunt.”

McCaskill’s speech was the first of the State Historical Society’s My Missouri Lecture Series, which showcases prominent Missourians speaking about how Missouri’s history, culture and people have impacted them.

Introduced by her former Republican colleague as someone who “uniquely understands our state,” McCaskill spoke about how the Missouri values of hard work, community and family tie together even the most unlikely of political opponents.

“On the big national issues, we didn’t agree, but on the things that kept the government open, we almost always agreed,” Blunt said. “And on the things that impacted Missouri, we did always agree.”

Discussing how she learned her Missouri values from her family, particularly her grandmother, McCaskill said she saw how similar values of hard work, community and family are shared across the entire state.

“The biggest danger in our state today is the failure for us all to recognize our shared values, a growing sense that we don’t have the same values,” McCaskill said.

  • I am a fall 2019 state government reporter. I am studying data journalism. Reach me at lilliehegeman@gmail.com or at 816-244-7488 with story tips and ideas.

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