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U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill: There’s ‘no excuse to check out of democracy’ ahead of Election 2016

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks with reporters before the start of the presidential debate at Washington University. (Oct. 9, 2016)
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo: U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks with reporters before the start of the presidential debate at Washington University.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskillunderstands why people are fed up with the election. But “that’s no excuse to check out of democracy or give up the freedom we have in our country to decide who our leaders are,” she told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on the Friday before many people will head to the polls on Nov. 8.

“This particularl campaign has been rough in terms of coarsening our politics. If someone would have told me in our lifetime that we’d have a candidate for president who would say and do the things that Donald Trump has done, I would say we would never fall that far, but we have. I think it is important for us to take a deep breath and realize we have a resilient democracy and the American people need to understand that there are checks and balances in our Constitution that can sometimes be very frustrating.”

McCaskill, if it is not obvious, endorses Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. McCaskill is currently in Missouri campaigning for Clinton  and will remain here over the weekend. On Tuesday night, she’ll be at the Clinton results watch party in New York.

But McCaskill has some strong feelings about local elections too. She believes Jason Kander, the Democratic nominee for Missouri’s second Senate seat, has a good chance to win despite the idea that high Trump voter turnout could spell bad things for down ballot races in Missouri, in her opinion. She even feels “cautiously optimistic” that Democrats may win control of the Senate this go around.

“This is one of the things I love about Missouri,” McCaskill said. “You know that our state elected John Ashcroft and Harriet Wood, governor and lieutenant governor, in the same election. They didn’t agree on anything.”

She also drew comparisons to 2012, when Mitt Romney won the presidential election in Missouri by 12 points yet Democratic governor Jay Nixon won by 13 points and McCaskill, herself a Democrat, won by 16.

“Jason is a young veteran who is relatable and authentic and has an incredible life story about his service to our country,” McCaskill said. “Missourians will take an independent look at Chris Koster and Jason Kander. One third of our state will always be Rebublican, slightly less than one third will be Democrats. The rest, they call ‘em like they see ‘em, race by race. We’ll keep a Democratic governor and, for the first time in many years, we’ll have two Democratic senators.”

McCaskill also feels very passionate about Constitutional Amendment 2, one of the many statewide ballot measures Missouri voters will consider on Nov. 8. She supports its passage, which would restore campaign donation limits in Missouri.

“It is the most important thing on the ballot,” McCaskill said. “I have watched in horror as the statewide legislature and candidates in our state have been auctioned to the highest bidder. A couple of billionaires in Missouri have decided to write million dollar checks to candidates. We are the only state in the union that has no rules about how much can be given, lobbyist gifts and this milieu of ethics.”

This won’t fix everything, McCaskill said, mentioning the need to repeal Citizens United.

“You’ve got to crawl before you can walk,” McCaskill said.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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