Claire McCaskill Casts Herself as the Modern Donald Segretti

The people behind all of this were frightened of Muskie and that's what got him destroyed. They wanted to run against McGovern. Look who they're running against.

-- Deep Throat, in the movie "All the President's Men"

This is not the most amazing story I have ever heard told about political machinations, but it is perhaps the most amazing told by a sitting politician about her own actions.  How Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (proudly) manipulated the GOP primary to get the incredibly weak opponent she wanted.  As told by ... Claire McCaskill.

It was August 7, 2012, and I was standing in my hotel room in Kansas City about to shotgun a beer for the first time in my life. I had just made the biggest gamble of my political career—a $1.7 million gamble—and it had paid off. Running for reelection to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Missouri, I had successfully manipulated the Republican primary so that in the general election I would face the candidate I was most likely to beat. And this is how I had promised my daughters we would celebrate.



  1. Hal Duston:

    Before the primary election, I tried (and failed) to convince my fellow voters that this is exactly what she was doing. (I voted for Sarah Steelman.) I'm pretty sure I received a mailer from McCaskill attacking Aikin as too conservative for Missouri during the primary season.

  2. Andrew_M_Garland:

    How to understand politics. Think of a group of high school juniors arranging to launch pranks and slander the people they don't like. Give them millions of dollars to play with, and pay them hundreds of millions if they succeed.

  3. herdgadfly:

    Before we get carried away with this McCaskill pipe dream, just remember that she was unopposed and her organized Democrat supporters were free to participate in the August 2012 primary by choosing the Republican ballot at the polls. That's the way it is in open primary states.

    In 2012, since Obama was running for reelection, there was nothing more important than overcoming McCaskill's unpopularity, so the loyalist Dems voted for the weakest Republican candidate and Saint Louis played Donkey Kong - winning the day for the be-itch. It happens all the time.

  4. MJ:

    And two years later, Ferguson was in flames. She won the battle, but lost the war. She must be awfully proud.

  5. MJ:

    How did they respond when you suggested that this was the strategy she was using?

  6. Benjamin Cole:

    I am shocked---shocked!---that one political party machinated against another in the United States.

  7. bannedforselfcensorship:

    So, Akin knew this, right? And didn't pull out after his comments.

    IIRC, he prayed and God said he was the chosen one.

    You know, these pastors and Huckabee types should police their own. He should have been yanked into reality.

  8. mlhouse:

    This is why I favor closed primaries. Political parties are private organizations. Only the members of those organizations should be allowed to have a voice in its activities. Why should a Republican be able to vote in a Democratic primary when their objective and vice versa? To create one example, what if the Democratic candidate for president was a lock, so the Democrats funded it so that all of their voters voted in the opponents primary and voted for THEIR candidate......far fetched but possible.

  9. John O.:

    In politics and in war, all is fair in engaging the enemy. This is a common tactic in primaries and in general elections. Several years ago the Arizona Democratic Party was sending out flyers trying to divide the "conservative vote" between the Republicans and the Libertarians by funding a bunch of campaign flyers in support of the Libertarian candidate. Of course it didn't work, but they at least tried something to win a battle they couldn't hope to win directly.

  10. bigmaq1980:

    What you state are the conditions that made it possible for McCaskill to take that gamble. It was unfair, but it was shrewd. No doubt, the GOP plays the same game where they can.

  11. bigmaq1980:

    True, but would Akin have prevented it?

    If he had won, it is easy to imagine some commenter on a leftist blog would have given a similar message.

  12. bigmaq1980:

    They probably wouldn't believe it in the same way they couldn't detect the problems Akin would have as a candidate (the same ones the Dems picked up on and exploited).

  13. bigmaq1980:

    Sometimes the GOP create their own problems.

    McCain, who engineered the campaign finance reform prior to 2008 election couldn't help but announce that he'd abide by his own rules. Obama waited for that and announced he'd not abide, forcing McCain to be financially handicapped for the remainder of the race.

    Remember, campaign finance was (still is) a hot button issue owned by the Dems. So, it was more than just hypocritical that a GOP candidate abides, but a Dem one does not.

    (insert Venn diagram here)

    On top of that we had the (I think highly scandalous, but minimally reported on) huge volume of low dollar (below reporting threshold) Dem campaign contributions originating out of a Chinese website(s), redirected to Obama's website, without requiring the credit card verification number (itself highly irregular).

    Anyone who knows about IT outsourcing knows simple "transactions" like this can easily be farmed out in super high volume for relatively cheap, the same way people profitably farm out fake reviews or clicks for online ads.

    As you say, "all is fair in engaging the enemy", at least for political campaigns.

  14. MJ:

    No, Akin wouldn't have prevented it. But this is McCaskill's 'base'. These are the people she has to pander to and claims to represent. She seems awfully proud of what she has done to obtain and retain office, yet she has nothing to improve the lives of these people. Certainly not enough to prevent their society from coming apart at the seams.

    And if Akin had somehow won, the response to these events (not just from blog commenters from from many pundits) would have emphasized that he was anywhere from 'out of touch' to overtly racist and complicit in the violence that erupted there. I'm particularly sure of that last part. The contemporary narrative on the Left can't seem to decide whether Republicans are unconcerned with the plight of minorities and the poor, or concerned enough that they are actively working to further oppress them.

  15. MJ:

    I generally have a pretty high tolerance for political chicanery and have come to expect a lot of the more shady tactics that we commonly see during election cycles, especially things like smear campaigns financed with soft money and funneled through PACs. But there's something about this practice of trying to influence an opponent's primary through deception that I find particularly repugnant.

    I saw it a few years ago, when a local branch of the GOP in Wisconsin tried to infiltrate the local Democratic primary and run a series of "fake Democrats" to try to knock out incumbents prior to the general election. They were caught and exposed, which was good, but it looks like this practice is more widespread than I had previously thought.

    In this case, it's probably the fact that McCaskill is bragging about it after the fact that I find particularly repulsive. Like a pig blissfully rolling around in its own excrement.

  16. John O.:

    The foreign money sleaze that is common with the Democrats often involves foreign third parties who are neither American registered voters nor American citizens, which brings a bunch of undesirables into to play, like can we trust these people in being impartial dealings with their foreign suitors. However, I consider it a mistake to claim that only money can win elections. It simply isn't true, money is useful when spent correctly to win an election but if your message is garbage to the voters then there's no amount of money in the world that can be spent to win. All things considered the Democrats generally outspend the Republicans 2-1 in most of their important campaign races so I think its a waste of time to focus on the money. The whole issue with campaign finance was to create a law that would be deliberate in handicapping those who were dumb enough to go along with it and let the candidates who didn't give a damn about it to spend as much as they wanted through as many means as they want by having much of it hidden in a cloud of mystery.

  17. John O.:

    That trick is used everywhere, sending in the sham candidates by registering them and funding their campaign, but most state and local parties are usually good enough to recognize this by doing a proper investigation onto their background. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to, call up the neighbors and colleague to find out more about a person, who hasn't even partaken in local party business, yet wants to run for office out of the blue.

  18. bigmaq1980:

    Yes. Somewhere, people cross the line into "the end justifies the means" territory.