In which a red-state Democrat up for reelection this fall reminds Her Majesty that Missourians are people too, notwithstanding the 18-point beating she suffered there in 2016.
“For those of us that are in states that Trump won we would really appreciate if she would be more careful and show respect to every American voter and not just the ones who voted for her” – Claire McCaskill on Hillary Clinton pic.twitter.com/J1rBBar8gR
— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) March 25, 2018
McCaskill’s been running from Hillary’s “Deplorables 2.0” comments since the words first escaped her lips two weeks ago, but the Clinton-themed attack ads have already begun to flow. She’s been exceptionally lucky in her two Senate runs to date, surfing a blue wave to a two-point victory in 2006 and capitalizing on the Todd Akin disaster to cinch reelection with Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012. She’s got another blue wave shaping up this fall but Missouri’s a redder state now than it was 12 years ago. One poll taken earlier this month had her up just two points over Josh Hawley. Another had Hawley up eight points. She was in trouble against a candidate whose numbers should improve as his name recognition does even before Hillary made her comments about backwards-looking red-staters.
What makes this clip extra fun is McCaskill’s history with the Clintons. In 2006, as a rookie Senate candidate, she said on “Meet the Press” of Bill Clinton that she thought he was a great leader “but I don’t want my daughter near him.” That was strike one. Strikes two, three, four, and five came two years later when she endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary in the Democratic primaries, a key show of early support for his prospects from an establishment Dem in a battleground state. The Clintons were desperate at the time to prevent Obama from getting traction by convincing primary voters that he had no real shot at the nomination. McCaskill’s support helped change that and Billary never forgot it. She soon found herself at the top of their enemies list, which was a bad place to be five years later. Obama had been safely reelected to a second term and the party was looking ahead to 2016, with Hillary Clinton their likeliest nominee. McCaskill was public enemy number one for someone who might soon be in charge of the Democratic Party and the White House. Time to make amends.
So she endorsed Hillary for president in … June 2013. Just eight months after Obama defeated Romney, McCaskill was already to atoning to the once and future queen by trying to clear the primary field for her in 2016. She spent the next three years doggedly ingratiating herself to Hillary, running interference for her against Bernie Sanders, attacking critics of, uh, Bill Clinton, and cheerleading for the First! Woman! President! all the way. Which was shrewd: Given the recent history of out-parties riding waves to victory in the midterms, McCaskill would have been at dire risk of losing her seat this year had Hillary won the presidency. Her play between 2013 and 2016 clearly was to try to impress President Clinton so much with her enthusiastic support that a cabinet post or ambassadorship might be in the offing if/when she lost her Senate seat this year. Oops.
The good news for McCaskill is that, as a member of the current out-party, she’s got a fighting chance of being reelected thanks to the blue wave that’s gathering. But in order to do that, she’s going to have to put as much distance as she can between herself and her frenemy Hillary over the new “deplorables” comments. So that’s what’s she doing. Having knifed Clinton in 2008 only to withdraw the knife and beg forgiveness five years later, she’s knifing her again another five years on now that Hillary’s washed-up and in no position to do McCaskill any political favors. Think it’ll work?
While you mull your answer, watch this.