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- Recently ousted Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill gave a candid interview about regrets and disappointments in how Democrats handled the 2018 Senate elections.
- McCaskill said Democrats will continue to suffer in Senate elections if moderates are not empowered in an effort to convert many supporters of President Trump.
- McCaskill lost to Republican Josh Hawley, who had previously served as attorney general of Missouri.
Outgoing Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill did not pull any punches in a recent interview, blasting her party for not empowering moderate Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.
Recapping her Senate career with Rachel Martin on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” McCaskill called her loss a “failure” to bridge the gap between the Democratic Party and Americans in rural areas. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley unseated McCaskill, ousting the Democrat after two terms.
“This demand for purity, this looking down your nose at people who want to compromise, is a recipe for disaster for the Democrats,” McCaskill said. “Will we ever get to a majority in the Senate again, much less to 60, if we do not have some moderates in our party?”
McCaskill added that House Democrats would be wise to be “very cautious and careful” when using their newfound power to investigate and probe the Trump administration.
“They’ve got to be careful with their oversight that it does not dwarf their messaging about how much we want to get done for the people of this country,” she said. “If we focus on just going after Trump, then he has his foil.”
She added that continuing to hammer Trump has not necessarily moved the needle in terms of converting his supporters, demanding a different approach than Democrats have taken during his first two years in office.
“He clearly will never take any responsibility for any mistakes he’s made,” she said. “And frankly, a lot of his mistakes have been pointed out, and it hasn’t really moved a lot of the voters we need to move.”
McCaskill also lamented the deteriorating ability to compromise in Washington, noting the rightward shift from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“Everyone gets in their own bubble. And when you’re in that kind of echo chamber, it feels very scary to step outside of it,” she said. “People have black armbands on around the Democratic caucus, because it feels like we’ve lost Lindsey Graham. He is someone who was willing to step outside that bubble from time to time and really do the hard work on issues like immigration. We’re mourning right now because we fear he’s gone.”
In dealing with her vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, McCaskill dismissed the notion made by many pundits that it cost her the election.
I don’t think my vote hurt me as much as the spectacle that occurred. There were mistakes made by my party in terms of how that was handled,” she said. “I don’t think that communication [from Christine Blasey Ford] to the judiciary committee should have been kept private as long as it was. The FBI deals with a lot of confidential information, and that would have absolved [judiciary committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein] of the very real perception that this was an 11th-hour attempt to gut a guy.”