Missouri Senate candidates Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley met on the same stage at the Missouri Press Association candidate forum Friday afternoon.
Although there were a few strays, both candidates stayed on message and echoed what their television commercials have been saying for weeks.
In fact, many times in the forum the same phrases of “just another Washington liberal,” and “Potomac two-step” were uttered by the candidates.
Varying from the regurgitation of stump speeches, when asked about the current issues on the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, Hawley says he is in full support of Brett Kavanaugh.
“I would absolutely vote yes,” he said. “I began my career working in the Supreme Court and I’ve learned there are two kinds of judges — those who believe in the Constitution as written and those who put their own beliefs into it.”
Hawley then attacked McCaskill’s voting record on court appointees from both Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama.
The challenger touted McCaskill had voted yes for every one of Obama’s court appointees, but has voted yes for only about half of Trump’s judicial appointees at all levels, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
McCaskill fired back at Hawley saying she has voted to approve about two-thirds of Trump’s nominees and is still reviewing documents on Kavanaugh.
“It didn’t start with an automatic ‘No,’ ” McCaskill said. “I’m worried about dark money and I’m concerned about some of his (Kavanaugh’s) opinions.”
Since any new Supreme Court justice confirmed now would likely give the court a conservative majority for the next two to three decades, many on the left are beginning to question the court’s focus in the coming years.
Another question asked of the candidates was what they think the role of the Supreme Court should be.
“The court’s role is to be a true check and balance,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill added she would like to see confirmation of judges require a 60-vote majority instead of the slim 51 vote margin that exists now.
“We need to get back to 60,” she said. “That way it is a true bipartisan majority.”
Hawley said the liberal obstructionists, who are holding up Kavanaugh’s confirmation, don’t truly represent the American people.
“Judges too often impose their values from the bench,” he said. “Those are usually Hollywood values instead of heartland values.”
McCaskill replied a 94 percent record of voting for Bush (43) nominees is not the record of an obstructionist.
Hawley repeatedly attacked McCaskill’s record on a number of issues, including campaign finance, health care, immigration, the Global War on Terrorism and tariffs.
In each category, Hawley highlighted the shift in Missouri and national political ideologies or “Red Wave” which has taken place since McCaskill was last up for re-election in 2012.
Now she sits alone as the only Democrat elected in Missouri at the national level, which is more glaring since the state offices were swept by Republicans in 2016 and Donald Trump took 56 percent of the votes.
“In 2016, people voted for an agenda,” Hawley said. “She is not representing what the people of Missouri have voted for. Every time it has mattered, she has been with her party.”
McCaskill answered that she is proud of her record of working with members of both parties to do what’s best for the American people.
“The Founding Fathers wanted us to compromise,” she said. “I’m proud of working from the middle.”
McCaskill also warned of the millions of dollars in “dark money” that has flooded into this campaign from third-party sources, which allows attack ads to run and not be accountable to a specific candidate.
“You should ignore any commercial you see unless you can figure out who paid for it,” McCaskill said. “Whether they are for me or against me.”