By Susan Redden and Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A squadron of GOP challengers in Tuesday’s election and a Democratic U.S. Senate member who is being challenged were out stumping for votes Thursday in Joplin.
Republican candidates delivered a pep talk to area supporters, urging them to turn out the vote in Tuesday’s general election.
The encouragement came as part of a GOP bus tour that stopped at Republican headquarters on East 32nd Street. Most Republican candidates on the state ticket took part, asking for a final push from volunteers who they said would ensure victory for the party from presidential candidate Mitt Romney on down.
“We want to make all the calls and knock on all the doors, because we don’t want to wake up next Wednesday morning with any regrets,” David Cole, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, told the crowd.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., reinforced her message Thursday in Joplin that she is the candidate for common-sense Missourians.
“This is a choice between a good-old fashioned moderate,” she told supporters at Democratic headquarters in Joplin, “versus someone who stands on the edge of the earth.”
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, seeking his second term in Congress from Missouri’s 7th District, pointed to the region’s importance for Republican victories, and the importance of grass-roots volunteers in voter turnout.
“If we (Republicans) can get a 40 percent turnout in the 7th District, we’ll win statewide,” said Long, who is being challenged by Jim Evans, a Democrat.
Long noted polls in which the Romney-Paul Ryan ticket is leading, prompting applause from the crowd. He also noted positive polling numbers for Peter Kinder, incumbent lieutenant governor, adding, “and I’m seeing polls where Todd Akin’s numbers are good. If we get a big enough turnout, he’ll be our next senator.”
Currently a U.S. House member, Akin is challenging McCaskill. Neither he nor Kinder were on the GOP tour.
St. Louis businessman Dave Spence, who is challenging Gov. Jay Nixon, called the governor “a career politician whose office is for sale and whose loyalties are to unions and special interests.”
Spence said Missouri’s economy had lost ground during the Nixon administration and that Joplin residents “can see that when your businesses and doctors move and set up shop right across the state line.”
Also part of the GOP group were Ed Martin, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Chris Koster for attorney general; Shane Schoeller, candidate for secretary of state; and Cole McNary, candidate for state treasurer.
McCaskill said Akin is the man who told people that women’s bodies have a mechanism to avert pregnancy in the case of “legitimate rape.”
“It’s not what he said that’s the problem,” she told her supporters. “It’s what he believes that’s the problem.” She enumerated his views that she said contradicts what most Missourians want. He doesn’t believe in providing Medicare to senior citizens, he wants to abolish minimum wage, and believes the federal government should “get out of public schools entirely,” including serving school lunches, which many low-income families rely on to help nourish their children.
He opposes equal pay for equal work and believes it is OK for a boss to discriminate, she said.
“He thinks this is freedom,” she said. “I think it is unfair” and not reflective of the views of the majority of Missourians.
“I’ve been rated every year as a moderate who is known to work” with those in the opposing party to negotiate a resolution to national issues “and be willing to listen.”
Akin does not support disaster relief by the federal government, she said. “If there was ever a community that understands the need, it is this community,” she said, referring to the devastating 2011 tornado in Joplin. Akin also does not support farm aid unlike former Sen. Jim Talent. Talent declined to run against McCaskill in place of Akin when the GOP asked Akin to leave the race after his rape assertion.
McCaskill also stopped in Lebanon, Springfield and Kansas City as part of her last campaign push through the state.