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McCaskill declares support for Obama's re-election in 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 30, 2011 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sought to put to rest Monday any speculation -- some of it fueled by her own earlier circumspect statements -- that she might back away from supporting the 2012 re-election bid of President Barack Obama, who she strongly backed in 2008.

When asked if she was endorsing Obama's re-election, McCaskill told reporters, "Of course."

"What? I'm going to endorse Rick Perry? Michele Bachmann? I don't think so,'' the senator said at the end of a wide-ranging news conference on various issues.

Asked about the earlier speculation, McCaskill said, "Yeah, I don't know what that is."

McCaskill and her staff had seemed to back away from making strong statements about the president's re-election bid in recent interviews with various media outlets, fueling some speculation among bloggers and Republicans.

When the Beacon posed the question recently, for example, a spokesman replied that the senator was focusing on her re-election effort in 2012 and implied that she wouldn't be involved in Obama's contest.

That may be so, but McCaskill said Monday that she's still behind the president.

"President Obama is the standard bearer for the Democratic Party next year," the senator said. "He has been dealt a very difficult hand."

"I think if he were standing here, he would say he hasn't been perfect and things haven't always gone as well as he would have liked," McCaskill continued. "But he has really tried to get compromise, he has tried to be pragmatic and get compromise from the other side. That has been difficult, particularly after the last election."

What the public needs to realize, McCaskill said, is that economic recovery is slow after "a credit bubble" like the United States and the world experienced in late 2008. Digging out of that mess, she continued, is "not something you do by flipping a light switch."

Within the past two weeks, U.S. Reps. Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, also have each emphasized their support for the president.

And St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a Democrat, appeared to tweak with a Tweet at McCaskill's earlier reticence:

"It isn't a question for me," the mayor wrote on Twitter. "I support Pres Obama's reelection."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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