Akin and McCaskill face off in debate at Clayton High School
In their first and only debate so far, incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Rep. Todd Akin weighed in on the issues in the Clayton High School auditorium, Oct. 18.
McCaskill emphasized her moderate stance and willingness to work with Republicans on a range of issues. She pointed out her support of federal caps on spending and opposition to cap and trade as evidence of her commitment to bipartisanship and independence.
“I went to Washington, D.C. as an auditor and prosecutor,” McCaskill said. She added that in order to make progress in Congress, “it would take some hard work, it would take compromise, and it would take willingness to reach across the aisle to work with my Republican colleagues.”
She also attacked Akin for what McCaskill referred to as extremist views, referencing his opposition to equal pay for equal work and to the federal school lunch program.
“We’re going to get there through good hard bipartisan work,” McCaskill said. “Congressman Akin’s view is very narrow and leaves a lot of people out.”
Though McCaskill insisted that Akin’s positions were too conservative for Missouri, Akin countered by noting his months-long bus tour across the state that he said put him in touch with the views of ordinary Missourians. He repeatedly noted that 71 percent of Missourians voted against Obama’s health care plan, which McCaskill supports.
“My views are very much in sync with the voters in this state,” Akin said.
Akin tried to discredit McCaskill’s claim of a moderate record and instead focused the debate on what he described as a record of failure. In many of his answers, Akin consistently attempted to link McCaskill with President Barack Obama and expanding federal power.
“The approach that we’ve been taking obviously doesn’t work,” Akin said. “Senator McCaskill seems to think this is a crisis if everything isn’t done by the federal government.”
The debate touched on a variety of topics, from the Iran-Israel conflict to what criteria the candidates value in selection of Supreme Court justices. In contrast to the presidential and vice-presidential debates, interruptions were rare, and the candidates rarely exceeded their allotted time. McCaskill interrupted only once in a discussion over an amendment that Akin supported that cut off foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan, and Syria and that Akin supports. McCaskill corrected Akin when he failed to name Syria as the third country named in the amendment.
In their closing statements, McCaskill and Akin returned to their core themes of the night. McCaskill reinforced the contrast between her own views and those of Akin’s, while Akin elaborated on the need to examine McCaskill’s record of what he labeled as “failure.”
“Take the Missouri common sense back to Washington, D.C.,” Akin said. “Restore a bright hope for our future.” #