The American: A lot of our readers may not know about some of the outrageous things that your opponent has said. Give the black community three reasons to vote against U.S. Rep. Todd Akin.
Claire McCaskill: Todd Akin wants to abolish programs. He wants to abolish the minimum wage. And he thinks employers should have the “freedom” to discriminate. He believes employers should have the freedom to pay anyone anything they like. If they negotiate a wage with an employee, it shouldn’t make any difference. If this is about employer freedom, then that would remove the ability to require employers to not discriminate against workers based on gender or race or anything else.
The American: You have been attacked relentlessly for your support of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Tell our readers the benefits of Obama’s health reform available now and the benefits to come.
Claire McCaskill: There are a few benefits already in place. Young people can stay on their parents’ insurance policy. We made a rule that insurance companies can’t pay as much as they want on their own salaries or find ways to deny health-care claims. They have to spend 80 cents of every dollar on health care. If they spend less, they have to refund that money to the people. This year thousands got refund checks because insurance companies have spent too much on overhead and not enough on their health care. Seniors receive free preventive care and they don’t have to pay a co-pay for mammograms or colonoscopies or any other preventive-care services. We are also strengthening Medicare programs by closing the donut hole for seniors. With the health care reform, in the future, insurance companies can’t deny you because you had the nerve to be sick before.
The American: Many of our readers would envy the close working relationship and the relationship of trust you have shared with Barack Obama. Tell our readers something about the president we might not know that you know from working directly with him.
Claire McCaskill: He is intensely committed to his family. He feels so strongly about having dinner with his wife and daughters. He loves the idea that he can go upstairs and be with his family. He has worked very hard to maintain a normal childhood for his daughters. They have chores and do the kind of things we all want children to do. He is a great role model for fathers all over the country.
The American: The Republicans have done a lot of damage to statewide Democrats by attacking Obama and candidates’ association with Obama. So we know a senator like yourself has to remain politically aware of associating with the president on controversial issues. Yet Obama has said over and over again that he needs you in the Senate. Explain to our readers the value of a ranking Democrat in the Senate for the president.
Claire McCaskill: If you look at the way we increased Pell grants, if you look at our efforts to establish equal pay for equal work, and if you look at our efforts to clean up abuse in the credit card industry, those are all things the president needed assistance with in the Senate, and I was pleased to be with him on. I support him. He wants me to win. But he also appreciates that I am independent. He would tell you that if you asked. I am also willing to tell him when I think he is wrong about things. We have a good working relationship but one that is based on mutual respect and one that allows for disagreements.
The American: There were successful street teams for several black candidates in the August primary. Are you intending to invest campaign resources into these proven street teams in a get-out-the-vote effort in St. Louis?
Claire McCaskill: Absolutely we have been in touch with all of the campaigns that worked throughout the summer months. We have offered to hire any and all workers that are willing to continue the work of knocking on doors and making sure they know what’s at stake in November. We were all elated Barack Obama was elected in November 2008. Now is no time to take a nap. We have to make sure he is re-elected because there is a lot at stake.