McCaskill comes to campus, fields student questions

Sen. Claire McCaskill visited UMKC’s Student Union earlier this week for a town-hall style Q&A with students as part of her re-election campaign.

The Missouri Senator, first elected in 2006, repeatedly emphasized what she’s accomplished for Missourians in her previous two terms. She made it clear that her campaign was not about battling President Trump, but rather focusing on two primary ideas: how she can continue to work for her constituents, as well as highlighting differences between her and her opponent, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, which she did often.

The senator spoke of her intent to continue to serve as a moderate among an increasingly polarized Congress. She frequently referred to “finding the middle ground,” which she believes is the recipe for success when trying to pass bills in Washington.  

Sen. McCaskill speaks to students on campus Monday.

From the beginning of her visit, McCaskill made it a point to understand why young voters are so unlikely to turnout when compared to their older counterparts.

“I actually believe [the election] is going to be very close,” McCaskill said, stressing the importance of increasing the younger demographics’ voter turnout.

She invited UMKC students to join in helping with her campaign by volunteering in the upcoming weeks before election day.

On the issues, McCaskill frequently discussed the presence of “dark money,” which she believes is a defining issue of her campaign and a defining issue of this time in our history.

“I do believe it is the most corrosive thing that has happened to our democracy in our lifetime,” McCaskill said.

Similarly, she voiced her strong disapproval of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v FEC decision, calling it, “the worst Supreme Court decision of her lifetime.”

She also pointed to dark money as the source of a variety of negative ads run against her campaign, which she believes may have come from the pharmaceutical industry.

When posed a question about the opioid crisis facing Missourians, McCaskill referred to her record in the Senate, where she performed “the first comprehensive investigation into the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of opioids.” This investigation exposed the fraudulent practices of a pharmaceutical company and lead to the criminal arrest of the CEO.

She informed the audience that the Senate would be passing another legislation package regarding opioids within the next week, in which she wrote some portions of the legislation.

The senator addressed the issues facing students and her efforts to combat them. She pointed to her fight in the Senate to increase the amount of federally funded Pell Grants awarded, and her intent to help pass legislation allowing students to refinance their student loans. McCaskill also discussed her efforts to create and improve upon Title IX legislation to help students who have been impacted by sexual misconduct on college campuses.

McCaskill addressed her controversial decision to hold off on voting for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She stated that she had a record of voting for and against many different nominees under the past three presidents, and in this case, she wanted to first review all the facts before making her decision. The senator also fought back against the notion that this was a politically motivated move, stating that either way she voted, a large portion of her constituents would be unhappy.

“I don’t see any side of this being a ‘political winner,’” McCaskill said.

McCaskill closed the session by opening the floor to students who had any suggestions on how to make her campaign more appealing to them, hoping to entice their participation come Election Day.

ccwykr@mail.umkc.edu

(Photos courtesy of Megan Burke)

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