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McCaskill on defense as challenger Hawley calls for debates

Senator Claire McCaskill continues to avoid debates with her challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Hawley, who is tied or leading McCaskill in polls, is pressing the point in his bid to unseat the incumbent democrat in the U.S. Senate.

After securing the GOP nomination last week, the popular Hawley said he would debate McCaskill “anytime, anywhere.” After he was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau, his call to debate was amplified.

At the time, he said he would be driving around the state in a flatbed truck making speeches and invited McCaskill to join him along the way for public forums.

Since then, he’s used a pickup truck to pull a flatbed trailer on which he’s spoken numerous times to crowds around the state.

The McCaskill campaign was quick to retreat to the use of Twitter, not to accept the debate challenge, but to explain the difference between a flatbed truck and a trailer.

The supposed jab fell flat.

Hawley is still making debates a centerpiece of his messaging.  He held a press call Tuesday where he specifically invited reporters to push McCaskill to “come out of the shadows” and debate him.

Hawley argues that the Democrat is out of step with Missouri’s conservative values and is afraid to debate.  “If I had voted against my state on judges, on the border wall, on taxes, on health care, on just about everything, I don’t think I’d be looking forward to facing tough questions either,” said Hawley.

McCaskill faced similar criticism in her 2012 reelection after backing the key priorities of President Obama, the health care law and the stimulus package, in a state Obama would lose twice.  Her approval rating was stuck at 40% before her Republican opponent, Todd Aiken, imploded after claiming women wouldn’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape”.

A Morning Consult poll from last month pegged McCaskill’s approval rating at a dismal 39%, lower than any of nine vulnerable Democrats running for reelection in states carried by President Trump.   Her disapproval figure was 44% although the number is close to even when the question of whether or not she deserves to be reelected is posed.

But polling of McCaskill and Hawley head-to-head consistently shows a tight race.

With such low approval ratings it is often common for an unpopular politician to avoid debates. The “rose garden” tactic has been used by others before, including presidents who eventually lost reelection.

With that reality, Hawley is on the offense focusing on McCaskill’s weakness.

“Let’s do it as long as it takes and let’s do it over and over,” Hawley told reporters.  “So, it’s not just one time.  (Let’s do it) so the folks in Missouri can hear us on these issues and hear us out on the trail multiple times and can know exactly where we stand on every single issue.  I mean, let the sunshine in.”

The Republican, who now serves as Missouri’s Attorney General, has also poked fun at the Senator.  A Twitter post his campaign made Friday after both he and McCaskill appeared before the Missouri Farm Bureau showed McCaskill’s RV driving by his parked trailer with a caption asking if the sitting Senator had a plane to catch.

McCaskill had used a private plane to shuttle between several stops in June after advertising the journey as an RV tour of the state.

During his press call Tuesday, Hawley noted that he’s accepted nine invitations from Missouri media outlets for debates while McCaskill has agreed to none.

McCaskill has only agreed to a forum, not a debate, presented by the Missouri Press Association.  Her campaign continues to rely on television and radio ads attacking Hawley and paid for by extreme leftist George Soros-funded PACS.

–Metro Voice and wire services