McCaskill, Hawley spar at Missouri candidates forum

ST. LOUIS – Fifty-three days before the midterm election, there was a huge political showdown at the Westport Sheraton Friday, which could help swing control of the United States Senate.

Two-term incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill squared off against her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The Missouri Press Association officially called it a candidates forum.

Even the candidates themselves considered it to be the first McCaskill-Hawley debate of their 2018 Senate campaign.

The two candidates began to tear into each other in their opening statements.

McCaskill and Hawley, along with Green Party candidate Jo Crain and Independent candidate Craig O’Dear, sparred on the top issues for about an hour. Those issues included Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hawley said he unequivocally supported him. McCaskill said her decision on whether to vote in favor of his confirmation was coming soon.

They also clashed on Obamacare, tariffs, a border wall with Mexico, and dark money campaign funding.

About the only agreement between the two was on the need to safeguard mandated health care coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The most volatile exchange came on an issue that seems to be getting more heated by the minute: releasing their tax returns.

Hawley just released his joint return with his wife. McCaskill released only her return, filed separately from her housing developer husband.

A Fox News poll just released Wednesday showed McCaskill and Hawley accounting for 85% of voter support, with McCaskill leading 44 to 41 percent. That’s within the margin of error and considered too close to call.