McCaskill waits tables in Columbia to emphasize importance of student loans, other issues

"These are bread-and-butter kind of issues for Missourians," McCaskill said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo., takes orders and waits tables Tuesday morning at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing. McCaskill said she chose to host the event in her hometown of Columbia because it is where she began waitressing.

As sophomore Mitchell Perne and sophomore Brady Finn sat at their table at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing on Tuesday morning, instead of the usual waitress, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo., arrived to take their order.

The usual atmosphere of the restaurant was interrupted as a pack of reporters, photographers and campaign workers surrounded the section McCaskill waited on.

Donning an apron and notepad, McCaskill waited on various other tables in the restaurant as she had years before when she waitressed to pay her way through law school.

"They tried to keep me from carrying more than one plate at once, and I said, 'You think I'm an amateur here? I can stack them on my arm. Watch me,'" she said.

Taking her campaign efforts to Columbia, McCaskill opened the event by waiting tables and concluded with a meeting with the press. The intent of the event was to emphasize the importance of programs such as student loans, Medicare, Social Security and minimum wage, McCaskill said.

"The goal here was to emphasize how important student loans and the minimum wage are," McCaskill said. "They matter to Missouri. Sometimes, giving something a visual impact helps. I think it reminds people that I can relate to folks that are struggling and trying to figure out if they have enough shifts to cover the rent. I remember what that felt like."

McCaskill said she chose to host the event in her hometown of Columbia because it is where she began waitressing.

"I came back to the 'scene of the crime,' so to speak — this is where I spent my time waiting tables," she said.

Experiences such as waiting tables and having student loans have taught her the value of safety net programs, McCaskill said.

"I worked my way through school, (and) for a decade I was a single mom," McCaskill said. "I was waiting to pick up my dry cleaning until I got my paycheck. So, I think I do understand that people are frustrated, and many are frightened about making sure that our economy continues to grow and get more healthy. The last thing in the world we need to be doing is pulling the rug out from under them with either upsetting Medicare or Social Security, or minimum wage or a basic like equal pay for equal work, student loans. These are bread-and-butter kind of issues for Missourians, and so we thought we'd serve a little bread and butter today to emphasize it."

Seeing McCaskill wait tables showed her as an everyday and approachable person, Perne said.

"You see so many negative things about politicians all the time, and it is cool to see a politician who just goes and spends quality time with voters," Perne said. "I thought it was interesting to see her in that role. Normally you see her on TV when she's giving speeches, and it was cool to see how down-to-earth she was and how she is willing to do these everyday jobs and stuff. How many people can say a senator served them lunch?"

McCaskill was the brains behind the idea for the event, McCaskill spokesperson Caitlin Legacki said.

"We were throwing around ideas about how to drive how the point that things like the minimum wage and student loans matter, and she said, 'Well, you know, I had to rely on this stuff when I was in college, and I think it's important, and maybe I should just go wait some tables and remind folks of that," Legacki said.

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