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McCaskill raises familiar topics as she sits down with Kavanaugh

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill meets with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in her Washington office.
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U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill isn’t signaling her opinion after her first meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

But as she’d advertised, the Missouri Democrat says her questions on Tuesday centered on three topics: protecting access to health care, curbing corporate power and addressing the explosion in campaign money from undisclosed donors.

McCaskill did not disclose Kavanaugh’s answers.

She added she expected to be “hearing more about how he approaches these issues during his upcoming confirmation hearing.”

The 45-minute meeting took place in McCaskill’s Senate office in Washington, as Kavanaugh made the rounds to various senators who likely will cast crucial votes this fall on his confirmation.

McCaskill – who faces a tough re-election bid – has been under pressure for weeks. Conservatives are lobbying her to back Kavanaugh, who they hope will overturn some court decisions – notably the 1973 ruling legalizing most abortions. Progressive groups are calling for her to oppose Kavanaugh, because they want to keep some of those controversial court decisions in place.

McCaskill’s Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, backs Kavanaugh and has made his confirmation a centerpiece of his bid to oust her. Several outside groups are running TV ads calling for McCaskill to vote for his confirmation.

McCaskill has emphasized that she has voted for most of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. She did not support his earlier nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed last year.

Meanwhile, at an unrelated Senate hearing Tuesday, McCaskill made a passionate pitch to protect provisions of the Affordable Care Act, notably its insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. She has said she’s concerned about how Kavanaugh views the ACA.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

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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