U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill tore into her Republican challenger during a visit Tuesday to Independence, accusing Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley of avoiding tough questions in recent weeks.
“Senator McCaskill — she’s been in D.C. forever. She’s turned her back on farmers. She’s ignored working families,” Hawley states in a campaign video.
McCaskill, a Democratic incumbent in a state that went for President Donald Trump by double digits, railed against Hawley while talking to reporters after a town hall at the Truman Memorial Building in Independence.
“I want to congratulate (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” she said. “He got his candidate. Mitch McConnell worked very hard. I believe Josh Hawley has spent more times talking to the insiders in Washington in the last four months than he has Missourians. He’s got a lot of questions to answer.”
“As you just witnessed, I’ve now for 44 hours answered any question any Missourians wanted to ask of me in places that are bright red,” McCaskill said, referring to her tour of town halls. “Meanwhile, he hasn’t answered any questions. He won’t answer whether he’s for repeal or replace. He won’t answer questions about DACA. He won’t even tell us really, frankly, where he lives. He didn’t tell us the truth about when he was running for the Senate.”
Hawley’s campaign website does not yet include policy positions. “Senator McCaskill should go back to the senate and actually get something done for Missouri,” Hawley’s spokesman, Scott Paradise, said in an email when asked about McCaskill’s criticism.
Hawley’s campaign announcement comes after weeks of encouragement from prominent Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth and Vice President Mike Pence.
Within hours of his campaign announcement, the 37-year-old attorney general had received an endorsement from the influential Club for Growth PAC, which praised Hawley as the “ideal candidate who possesses conservative credentials and a commitment to pro-market economic principles few can match.”
Despite Hawley’s strong support from party leaders and conservative advocacy groups, he’s faced pressure in recent weeks because of a perception that he’s been tiptoeing around the subject of Trump.
Hawley reached out to Trump’s former strategist, Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, shortly before officially launching his campaign. Bannon, a controversial figure and proponent of nationalism, was fired from his White House position in August.
“I don’t get that. I don’t understand it. If you look at Steve Bannon’s record and the things he said, I don’t think that’s where most Missourians are,” McCaskill said about Hawley’s efforts to seek favor with Bannon. “But make no mistake about it, whether Steve Bannon is saying nice things about Josh Hawley or not, it will be Mitch McConnell that will be by and large funding this race. It will be Mitch McConnell who is helping Josh Hawley. It was Mitch McConnell that did all hands on deck to get Josh Hawley into this race.”