- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2018

Missouri’s Senate race these days is all about Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

They have all played prominent roles in a hail of campaign attacks on Sen. Claire McCaskill, a two-term incumbent Democrat running in the solidly red state.

She is accused of being an establishment Democrat, too cozy with Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, and lock-step in opposition to President Trump’s agenda in a state that he won by more than 18 percentage points in 2016.

All those attacks hit her just in the last week.

Her likely GOP rival, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, launched a rapid-fire campaign offensive to keep Ms. McCaskill on the ropes and keep Mr. Trump’s base energized to knock her out in November.

Ms. McCaskill has mostly kept her powder dry. But she has the advantage of incumbency and is expected to unleash a well-funded TV ad campaign this summer.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama also have intervened in the race, which is on the frontline of the midterm battle for control of the narrowly divided Senate.

Mr. Trump has visited the state three times and hosted a fundraising dinner for Mr. Hawley last month in St. Louis.

Mr. Obama headlined a fundraiser Friday for Ms. McCaskill in Beverly Hills, California, attracting big-money Hollywood heavyweights such as: Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and J.J. Abrams.

Within hours of news breaking about the Beverly Hills shindig, the Hawley campaign posted a slick web ad calling Ms. McCaskill a “hypocrite” for claiming she’s not part of the Democratic Party establishment.

Another web ad slammed her for voting against Mr. Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and boasting that she was comfortable doing it because of “a desire in the base of our party to take a scalp.”

The confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, who got only three Democrat votes in the Senate, was a high point for conservatives and it has become a rallying cry for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Hawley also jabbed her with a web ad for defending Mrs. Clinton’s recent remarks demonizing Trump voters, similar to her characterizing them as “deplorable” during the 2016 campaign.

During a speech in India, Mrs. Clinton explained that Trump voters “didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs; you don’t want to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are — whatever your problem is, [Mr. Trump] was going to solve it.”

Those bigoted and sexist voters described by Mrs. Clinton would, of course, include the majority of Missouri voters.

The ad juxtaposed it with Ms. McCaskill’s response on in an MSNBC interview.

“I understand the point she was trying to make, but it felt like she was criticizing Missouri voters,” Ms. McCaskill said. “I think it certainly is being taken out of context.”

Ms. McCaskill is a savvy and tough campaigner. When Mr. Trump visited St. Louis in mid-March to highlight the success of the tax cuts, drawing attention to her vote against it and her claim that it was mere “scraps” for middle-class families, she boasted to The Washington Times that the vote demonstrated her “independent” streak.

“We have $1.5 trillion in deficits and we don’t have money for infrastructure and all that debt is owned by China, which means we are totally beholden to China, which is a very awkward position to be in terms of our economy right now,” she said then.

It was an economic talking point that adopted Mr. Trump’s get-tough rhetoric on China, signaling to Trump voters that she agrees with his worldview but disagrees with his policies.

She countered the attack on the Beverly Hills fundraiser by saying Mr. Obama picked the location.

“I think Mr. Hawley’s going to be — he’s already raising money all over the country,” Ms. McCaskill told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s what happens when you run for the United States Senate. He understands that.”

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