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National Chamber launches ad campaign against McCaskill

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 9, 2012 - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced today that it has "launched a television ad blitz throughout Missouri" that attacks U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., over her support of the federal health insurance changes, dubbed by critics as "Obamacare."

The national chamber's attack is its first against McCaskill, who is running for re-election this fall, but likely won't be its last.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran millions of dollars in attack ads in 2010 against that year's Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, Robin Carnahan, who lost resoundingly to Republican Roy Blunt.

The U.S. Chamber says it plans to be even more active in congressional races this year. The anti-McCaskill spot is among several ads launched today against Democrats in various key U.S. Senate contests around the country.

Regarding McCaskill, the national chamber said its ad campaign "is to ensure that the people of Missouri understand the contrast between members of Congress who support big government and those who support free enterprise."

"While Missouri needs jobs above all else, it's shameful that Senator McCaskill continues to support job-killing programs like Obamacare," said Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber in a statement.  "Her constituents need to know that she proudly cast a deciding vote for Obamacare, an anti-business program that will cripple Missouri businesses and stifle the state's economic recovery."

The ads don't mention any of McCaskill's announced Republican opponents -- businessman John Brunner, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman -- but all three have blasted the federal health insurance changes that have been going into effect since its passage in 2010.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, replying on McCaskill's behalf, said, "Once again, outside groups are distorting Claire's record in a desperate attempt to silence her. Claire's taken on the giants in Washington and stepped on a lot of big, special interest toes in the process, but here in Missouri, business leaders know she's spent her career fighting to create jobs and strengthen Missouri's economy. Her support from Missouri's business community speaks for itself."

The party included a list of at least 17 major businesses in Missouri, including Anheuser-Busch and Boeing, where executives and employees have donated to McCaskill's campaign.

The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also shot back by accusing the U.S. Chamber of running its ad campaign "to prop up Republican candidates in several states because the group knows that these candidates will do the bidding of their special interest agenda in Washington."

While not singling out Missouri, DSCC spokesman Matt Canter said, "Every one of the Republican Senate candidates that is benefiting from these ads sides with private insurance companies over seniors, with big oil companies over small businesses, and with billionaires over middle class families. Voters are going to see these attacks for what they are and all the money in the world won't be able to distract from the Republican special interest in agenda."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.