‘Air Claire’ Under Fire in Missouri Over SCOTUS

claire mccaskill
Associated Press

Republican Senate candidate and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley launched a new website on Tuesday attacking incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for her past and future votes on candidates nominated by President Trump for the Supreme Court.

“Claire McCaskill has been wrong on EVERY Supreme Court pick,” the above-the-fold headline on the new www.supremeclaire.com website reads.

The web site then notes five facts about McCaskill’s record of supporting President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, while opposing President Trump’s:

  • Claire McCaskill has been wrong on the last five Supreme Court nominees.
  • McCaskill opposed conservatives Alito and Gorsuch.
  • McCaskill voted in favor of filibustering Neil Gorsuch.
  • Claire McCaskill voted for 100 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees.
  • McCaskill supported President Obama’s nomination of liberals Elena Kagana and Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court.

McCaskill is one of ten Democratic senators from states won by President Trump in 2016 who are up for re-election in 2018. McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable of those senators.

Three of those ten Democratic senators–Sen. Joe Manchin (W-VA), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp–joined 51 Republican senators in voting to confirm Gorsuch in 2017.

So far, McCaskill has given no indication she is likely to support President Trump’s nominee to succeed retiring Justice Kennedy, no matter who that nominee is. On Monday, the president will announce his nominee.

The race between Hawley and McCaskill remains close, though where it stands now, two months after last major poll in the race was released, is unclear. The Real Clear Politics Average of Polls, which includes four polls conducted between March and May, shows McCaskill with a 1.7 percent lead, which is within the statistical margin of error.

“A Hawley campaign spokesperson said there would be a “digital push” to promote the website across the state, but declined to comment on details or how much is being spent on the effort,” Roll Call reported:

Hawley, currently in his first term as Missouri attorney general, has latched on to the Supreme Court vacancy as a key issue in the Senate race. He does have to win the Aug. 7 GOP primary first, but Republicans consider him the likely nominee.

Hawley previously clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and in a statement he called the high court “the defining issue of our time.” He called on McCaskill to debate him over the court’s role.

“My top criteria for the next nominee includes enforcing the Constitution the way the people wrote it, not according to a judge’s personal preferences, and a willingness to stand up to political pressure,” Hawley said.

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court and the anticipated Senate vote to confirm or reject President Trump’s nominee is just the most recent turn of events that has put McCaskill on the defensive.

Last month, McCaskill stumbled badly and allowed her critics to resurrect the “Air Claire” moniker that haunted her previous election campaigns by pretending to take an RV tour of the state, when she was, in fact, traveling by plane from one tour stop to another.

In a tweet prompted by that campaign fiasco, President Trump ridiculed McCaskill, and, as an added bonus, endorsed Hawley:

The Republican leadership in the Senate appears to have both the will and the power to bring a confirmation vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to the floor well before the November election.

Should she vote against Trump’s pick, McCaskill’s prospects for winning re-election in November are likely to decline significantly.


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