U.S. Claire McCaskill is sticking by her TV statement that if she were running for re-election this year, she probably wouldn’t ask President Barack Obama to join her on the campaign trail.
McCaskill, D-Mo., says she also doubts that the White House is surprised or upset over her comments, made Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I think I acknowledged something that’s pretty obvious,” McCaskill told reporters in a conference call Tuesday. “That is, that the president is not popular in the South. I don’t think that’s a news flash and it’s fascinating to me that it has gotten the coverage that it has.”
McCaskill’s observations on MSNBC came when she was asked if Democratic senators from states like Arkansas and North Carolina should campaign with Obama. Her response included her comment that Obama wasn’t popular in Missouri either.
McCaskill told reporters that she was simply addressing political reality. She then broadened the who-campaigns-with-whom issue to include some Republicans.
“I don’t think that, frankly, that Scott Brown (a former Republican senator from Massachusetts now considering a bid in New Hampshire) wanted (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell to campaign for him,” she said, alluding to Brown’s more moderate image. “I don’t think Rob Portman (a Republican senator from Ohio) would probably want Ted Cruz (from Texas) to come to Ohio.”
“When you’re from a state that is not necessarily a bright red or bright blue place, it’s very important that the people of that state know you are independent,” she added. “I was stating the obvious.”
So far, the senator said she had gotten no response from the White House and didn’t expect to. “It’s perfectly logical what I said,” McCaskill concluded. “I would be shocked if the president didn’t say, ‘Yeah, I get it.’ ”
During her MSNBC appearance, McCaskill also praised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who’s an early favorite for the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nomination. “There’s no one better capable to handle the nonsense,’’ said McCaskill, who already has endorsed Clinton for president.
McCaskill sidestepped any references to earlier tensions with Clinton over comments McCaskill made on "Meet the Press" in 2006 about former President Bill Clinton.
McCaskill subsequently endorsed Obama’s 2008 bid for the White House. But now, McCaskill says, it’s Hillary Clinton with whom she would be proud to campaign.
However, based on the latest coverage in the New York Times, it's unclear if the feeling is mutual.