Senator Claire McCaskill: "The Violence Against Women Act is Way More Popular Than I Am"


Claire McCaskill talking to reporters on Friday. - SAM LEVIN
  • Sam Levin
  • Claire McCaskill talking to reporters on Friday.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt is not interested in passing a Violence Against Women Act that includes special protections for LGBT individuals and Native Americans, as we reported last week. When Daily RFT asked Blunt about it at the end of his recent press conference, he wasn't much interested in talking about it, either.

But Missouri's Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who has been a vocal supporter of VAWA, held a press conference in St. Louis devoted to the topic -- urging Congress to come together and pass the measure that provides protections for victims of domestic violence.

Asked if she thought there was a link between Republican opposition to VAWA and the "war on women," anti-abortion debates of last election, she said, "I think there is. But I will say one thing that I'm confident of: The Violence Against Women Act is way more popular than I am."

She continued, "And we did okay."

Why is VAWA more popular than McCaskill?

"Most people understand that there is value to being able to train and have these resources out there," she responded. "You cut this program now, then you are saying to the local and state governments, once again, we're going to ask you to do something that frankly, you don't have the capability of doing right now. And there's value, too, in the networking. You don't get statewide networks without some kind of resource that comes from outside.... We've been able to combine all of these resources and all of this training in a way that is shared across the country, and that makes this problem much more manageable than it would be otherwise."

Claire McCaskill alongside St. Louis VAWA supporters. - SAM LEVIN
  • Sam Levin
  • Claire McCaskill alongside St. Louis VAWA supporters.

A reporter followed up asking if VAWA criticisms reflect a view of women from those in the GOP that oppose.

"I could be really sarcastic here, but I won't, because if I do, you'll all quote me and then I'll regret it later," McCaskill responded.

"Oh, go ahead!" a reporter chimed in.

"I'm in a dangerous place. I'm at the beginning of a six-year term. I better be really careful!" she joked.

The leadership in the House, she continued, has not focused on issues that are "incredibly important to women."

"Is that diplomatic enough?" she added.

Continue for more on Claire McCaskill's press conference.

Daily RFT asked the senator, who was speaking at the Carnahan Courthouse in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office on Friday, if she was surprised Blunt was in the small majority in the Senate that voted no.

She chose, again, to be diplomatic.

"He had voted no for it previously, but you would have to ask him," she responded. "I try to go out of my way not to comment on my colleague's votes."

Claire McCaskill and Jennifer Joyce - SAM LEVIN
  • Sam Levin
  • Claire McCaskill and Jennifer Joyce

McCaskill, who won the Senate seat with the help of Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment, promoted VAWA alongside St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and advocates that work with domestic violence victims.

Of those criticizing specified protections for gay and lesbian people in the latest proposal, McCaskill said, "That's fundamentally wrong and I think most Missourians would agree that's fundamentally wrong. It shouldn't matter who purports to care about you and what their gender is. What matters is that you're in a domestic partnership that has turned violent and abusive and that ultimately risks lives."

She said that in addition to the opposition to LGBT protections, "There is a huge number in the Republican caucus in the House that want to dismantle all government programs that come from the federal government and I think VAWA is a casualty in that battle."

What are the chances that this will move forward?

"I hope they are good," she said. "There is broad support for this legislation."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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