Senate Showdown: Meet The Players From Missouri

Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley have different views on just about everything. So who will resonate with voters in Missouri?

Senate Showdown: Meet The Players From Missouri

Donald Trump carried Missouri by a whopping 19 points two years ago. But recent polls have shown the president's standing in the Show Me State has dropped to around 50 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval.

The numbers capture why the Republicans started the 2018 campaign confident about defeating Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill — and why her race against the GOP's Josh Hawley is one of this fall's true tossups.

The two offer a clear contrast — not just in their different genders and generations, but also in their ideologies and their stands on the issues. 

McCaskill is seeking her third term in the Senate, where she's the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. Before coming to Washington about a dozen years ago, she was Missouri's state auditor and the top prosecutor in Kansas City. But she's been a public official nonstop since clerking for a judge after law school 40 years ago.

Hawley was also a law clerk — for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — before spending a decade as an attorney focused on religious liberty and other constitutional law cases. Then he got elected Missouri attorney general two years ago.

Hawley has aligned himself closely with the president and his priorities.  

McCaskill has long survived in red-tinged Missouri by positioning herself as an independent-minded centrist. But in the past couple of years, she has been a party stalwart in combating Trump's desires at almost every turn.

Hawley says he would have enthusiastically voted to seat Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and called the allegations of sexual assault against him an "ambush."

McCaskill said she decided to oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation before those allegations because of his conservative views on a host of issues, especially his hands-off approach to campaign finance regulation.

Hawley is part of a group of fellow Republican state attorneys general who are seeking to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.

McCaskill voted for Obamacare and has said it needs to be fixed at the margins, not totally dismantled.

Hawley backed the Trump tax cut and is supporting the president's trade war, saying the U.S. can get better deals by imposing tough tariffs. 

McCaskill voted against the tax law and is harshly critical of Trump's trade policies, saying they'll cripple farm prices and curb manufacturing.

Hawley opposes abortion rights and says Planned Parenthood should lose its $400 million in federal aid. McCaskill has the backing of abortion rights groups and has voted for funding Planned Parenthood.

Hawley is endorsed by the National Rifle Association. McCaskill has been behind almost all the gun control bills proposed during this decade's wave of mass shootings.

Hawley is enthusiastic about the president's plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and his other hard-line immigration policies — including adding a citizenship question on the next census.

McCaskill is a skeptic of the wall, backs legislation prohibiting the separation of children and parents at the border and says the citizenship question is unneeded and could ruin the census.

Neither candidate, however, has said much about climate change — even after a big United Nations report warning of dramatic consequences within 25 years.

Hawley talks vaguely about being good stewards of the environment without killing jobs. But, like many conservatives, he doesn't like to utter the phrase "global warming."

McCaskill's middle ground makes neither side happy. Environmentalists like that she's backed clean energy efforts and higher fuel efficiency rules. They don't like that she's opposed coal power regulations and legislation to set a price on carbon emissions.