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Hawley, McCaskill agree on need to debate but differ on particulars

Hawley stands in front of his traveling debate trailer, parked Wednesday in St. Charles.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

With their nominations in the bag, it’s now “game on’’ for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Even as Tuesday’s vote-counting was wrapping up, McCaskill and Hawley each issued calls for debates leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

Both also sought to frame their contest as one pitting a person of the people against a rival who’s out of touch.

Hawley meshed his debate proposal with his longstanding jabs at McCaskill because her family owns a plane and a $2.7-million condominium in Washington.

His campaign has set up a flat-bed trailer with two lecterns and a “Let’s Debate’’ sign, as part of Hawley’s call for a series of one-on-one debates with no moderator.

“I’ll take it to any airport of Senator McCaskill’s choosing, and she can come right off the plane and onto the stage,’’ Hawley said Wednesday after an afternoon rally in St. Charles.

McCaskill said Hawley’s proposal fit in with his detached view of how legislation affects people’s lives. “He’s most comfortable talking about the theory of the law,’’ she said, rather than its actually day-to-day impact.

McCaskill is proposing four town-hall debates or forums, which she said is the best way for the public to communicate its interests. Hawley said events would not qualify as true debates.

McCaskill, Hawley pleased so many voters showed up

Both took note of Tuesday’s turnout numbers. Election officials handed out roughly 663,000 Republican ballots, compared to 605,000 Democratic ones.

Hawley said the larger GOP number was a good sign of party enthusiasm and unity. “I think it’s a very good sign for Republicans and very worrisome for Democrats,’’ he said.

McCaskill blasts the high cost of prescription drugs at a recent stop in St. Louis at a senior center.
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio
McCaskill blasts the high cost of prescription drugs at a recent stop in St. Louis at a senior center.

McCaskill touted the Democratic numbers as evidence that her party was more whipped up. She noted that Tuesday’s Democratic turnout was twice the number of recent statewide primaries.

“We’ve never come close to having 600,000 Democratic votes in primaries in Missouri over the last five cycles,” she said.

McCaskill said she’s focusing on protecting workers’ rights, access to health care and the need to get rid of “dark money,’’ where the donors remain a secret.

Hawley reaffirmed his belief that a top issue should be the pending Senate consideration of whether to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

McCaskill said she plans to meet with Kavanaugh later this month; Hawley asserts that she’s in lockstep with Senate Minority Chuck Schumer, who is critical of the nominee.

McCaskill contends that Hawley is bending entirely to Trump’s will, “no questions asked.”

The president already has made several campaign stops to Missouri, and Hawley said he hopes Trump returns before November.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.