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McCaskill continues attacks on Hawley

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions from journalists on Friday, June 8, 2018, after speaking at the 2018 Grant & Foundation Symposium at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden,

WASHINGTON • Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will meet  privately with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Aug. 21. 

That meeting will intensify the spotlight on McCaskill and other Democrats in tough Senate elections this fall. McCaskill, who last year voted against Trump's first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, told the Post-Dispatch after Kavanaugh was nominated last month that she wanted to review Kavanaugh's writings and meet with him privately before deciding on his nomination.

“I am going to look at his record. I am going to be very diligent,” McCaskill said. “I am going to go through all of his writings. I am going to visit with him, obviously, and then I am going to make a decision on what is right."

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., met privately with Kavanaugh earlier this week and afterward called him the "right choice." Blunt said he would vote to confirm the nominee.

Missouri Republicans have tried to make this upcoming vote, which is likely to come in the heat of the fall campaign, as a litmus test on McCaskill's claims of being a Senate moderate. Vice President Mike Pence mentioned the Kavanaugh nomination in a campaign event in Kansas City, Mo., last month.

Attorney General Josh Hawley, the establishment contender for the Republican nomination in Tuesday's Missouri primary, launched his first Senate ad on the importance of filling the seat with a conservative judge. Speaking to the pivotal nature of Missouri's Senate race - it is one of a handful of states that will decide control of the Senate in the November elections - Hawley said in the ad that "we decide which values control the Senate, and the Supreme Court." 

His campaign followed with digital ads on the Kavanaugh fight that tried to connect McCaskill with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and other liberals.

McCaskill last month told the Post-Dispatch that anyone who is trying to put a political calculation to her vote doesn't understand Missouri politics. 

“Anyone who thinks you can make some purely political decision on this is not being realistic about a state like Missouri,” McCaskill said “It is not like I make a whole bunch of people happy no matter how I vote. The bottom line is you just do what is right and explain it, and Missourians, I think, will understand.”

Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.