ST. LOUIS • Did Missouri Democrats discover Sarah Steelman's "Macaca" moment?

In 2006, an opposition videographer — now, ubiquitously, a "tracker" — assigned to Virginia Republican George Allen captured the Senate hopeful using the term "macaca," an utterance that eventually sank Allen's candidacy. The word, it was revealed, is considered a derogatory slur in some places.

Steelman is not accused of saying anything offensive. But video captured by a Democratic tracker catches the Missouri Senate candidate in an exchange where she is apparently unaware of a key piece of Congressional legislation designed to provide support to victims of domestic violence.

In a clip uploaded Tuesday by the state Democratic Party, a man and a woman are seen asking Steelman about the bill, the Violence Against Women Act.

"I'd have to look at it," Steelman says.

The man replies: "You haven't really heard about it?"

"No, not really," Steelman says as she directs a glance a the camera.

The Violence Against Women Act, first approved in 1994 and sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden, authorizes federal money for local programs that, among other objectives, seek to help victims of domestic violence and pursue offenders.

This year, attempts to reauthorize funding for the law have been caught among partisan disagreement over a Democratic push to expand protections for illegal immigrants and individuals in same-sex relationships.

The bill was scheduled to be considered by the Senate on Tuesday.

Will the video hurt Steelman's chances of capturing her party's nomination in August? Perhaps not.

Come this fall, though, if she is debating Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, it will be tough for Steelman to explain how she had not heard of a piece of landmark legislation designed to protect the nation's most vulnerable abuse victims.

 

Jake Wagman covers politics for the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @JakeWagman