News broke very recently that Senator Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri will skip the DNC convention this year.
Obviously, this says a lot about the perception of Barack Obama in her state of Missouri — a swing state — to which she is up for re-election this year.
Since we all know Claire was one of the first major politicians to offer Obama an endorsement way back in January of 2008, isn’t it a little strange that in her own re-election year, she won’t be there to cheer him on and talk up the idea of all that hopey-changey stuff for another four years?
Is she avoiding him for some reason?
Recent polling indicates it may be a good idea.
Candidate, Sarah Steelman (R) responds to McCaskill’s decision to skip it:
I don’t care if Senator McCaskill joins her fellow Democrats at the convention in Charlotte or not. We know she stands with President Obama every time she votes for his policy priorities like the Utility MACT vote last week, the debt ceiling vote a few months ago and ObamaCare last year. She voted for his judicial nominees, she voted for TARP, she voted for the bailouts. Skipping a few cocktail parties and rallies in Charlotte doesn’t distance her from the President, and it won’t convince voters that she’s a born-again moderate. The election has her concerned about perception, but her performance is the issue. Voters care about the bad policies that impact their families, churches and businesses more than they care about the parties attended by the Democratic elite. If Senator McCaskill wasn’t so out-of-touch, she’d understand.
Update by Doug: This story is hilarious. McCaskill wasn’t only one of the first to endorse Obama in 2007, but she was one of his most vociferous surrogates throughout the campaign and well into his presidency. In November 2008, David Goldstein discussed just how close Obama and McCaskill had become. Here are a few choice excerpts:
It was on Barack Obama’s third trip to Missouri in 2006 to help Claire McCaskill win a Senate race that she urged him to run for president.
"We’re talking about it," he confided after a rainy Sunday night rally in St. Louis, two days before the 2006 election. "Win on Tuesday and we’ll talk more."
McCaskill did win, and she and Obama did talk. They became Senate allies and friends. A year later he was a presidential candidate, and she provided a pivotal endorsement. She quickly emerged as one of his most visible and nimble defenders.
"It’s very flattering," McCaskill said. "I don’t want to abuse it, and I’m still, frankly, a little bewildered about how all it all happened."
McCaskill was at first-lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama’s side at the second presidential debate. Behind the scenes, McCaskill conferred from time to time with the campaign brain trust, offered advice when asked and shared occasional e-mails with the candidate about how things were going.
"She was probably the most reliable surrogate, even in contentious settings like going on Fox News, even in times when the narrative wasn’t even great, like the Reverend Wright turmoil," said Josh Earnest, an Obama campaign spokesman.
Now party leaders from coast to coast recognize her. Bookers for political talk shows have her on speed dial.
"She goes from a backbencher just learning her role to someone who now can be one of the leaders of the Obama agenda in the Senate, somebody who will be looked to as a bellwether," said Brian Darling, the director of Senate relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a former Senate Republican aide.
Once she was elected, she worked with Obama on ethics-policy revisions and correcting problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Their staffs were close, regularly checking with each other on their bosses’ political temperatures on upcoming bills.
McCaskill wanted to endorse Obama as soon as he entered the presidential race in February 2007. She’d been a senator for barely a month.
Her staff and colleagues waved her off. Why risk alienating three senior senators — Clinton, Biden and Christopher Dodd — who were also in the race?
After she did publicly back him, the campaign dispatched her to key states and to the political talk-show circuit. "I very rarely said no," McCaskill said.
She still pinches herself and feels "grateful and blessed" for the role she played.
It sure didn’t take her long to go from pinching herself to verify she’s in The One’s presence to playing the "Barack Who?" game. And this after delivering such an, er, inspiring speech on Obama’s behalf at the 2008 Democrat convention. Et tu, Claire? I’m guessing Missouri voters are no more likely to buy McCaskill’s born-again moderate act than Sarah Steelman is.