After handily winning their party’s elections Tuesday night, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley immediately called for debates before they face off for a spot in the U.S. Senate in November.
But they have different opinions on how the debates should go down.
Hawley began his “Let’s Debate” campaign challenge to McCaskill yesterday in St. Charles. He has set up a trailer that he is taking around Missouri, and wants McCaskill to join him atop it for debates without moderators.
In a letter to Hawley, McCaskill suggested four town hall-style debates.
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“Town hall’s great. That’s a good start,” Hawley said Thursday in Blue Springs, the second stop on his tour. “But let’s debate and quit hiding behind TV studios and this rule and that rule. Let’s just debate.”
“She should come to this stage and explain why she is pro-illegal immigration, why she is pro-open borders, why she won’t reform the system to actually protect Missourians and Missouri workers and Missouri families,” Hawley said to a crowd of about 50.
McCaskill campaign spokesman Eric Mee said in an email to The Star: “This is a stunt, complete with hay bales, and Missourians will see right through it. Claire welcomes debates. Claire has debated many times. And she has held over 50 town halls where any Missourian was welcome to ask her any question.”
Hawley and McCaskill’s first unofficial debates have come via Twitter.
Hawley tweeted at McCaskill Wednesday, saying, “I set up a flatbed truck that we can take anywhere across the state. I’ll take it to any courthouse — or if necessary to any airport tarmac to meet your plane. You name the time & the place.”
Hawley’s mention of airport tarmacs is a reference to McCaskill’s use of her private plane during what was supposed to be a three-day RV tour in June.
McCaskill and other Tweeters responded to Hawley, pointing out that his debate stage is not a flatbed truck but a trailer.
“Note to Yale law grad: the thing you are standing on is a trailer,” McCaskill tweeted. “The picture below it is a flatbed truck. See you at our first debate!”
At Thursday’s event, Hawley said he was disappointed McCaskill did not show and then attacked her policies.
“She’s the incumbent, so she’s the one who has to answer for her record,” he said.
Hawley questioned why he has received no notification of McCaskill accepting any of six local media requests for debates that he has already accepted.
“In 2006, when you first ran for the U.S. Senate, you said you would like to debate ‘Anytime, anywhere, as often as possible.’ I agree. Let’s do that,” he wrote in a letter to McCaskill Wednesday morning.
Mee said that McCaskill has already accepted a number of debates.
“It appears that Josh Hawley is willing to talk about anything other than the issues that Missourians care about,” Mee wrote.
Hawley told the crowd he received a call from President Donald Trump after winning Tuesday’s primary, garnering much applause.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to beat her.’ And I said, ‘Mr. President, we are going to get it done.’ ”