McCaskill speaks about Ferguson, veterans affairs

McCaskill said she plans to fund organizations that train African Americans to assume leadership roles in their communities.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., joked about her reputation as a moderate to lighten up the crowd in Hulston Hall on Friday.

“I got 35 percent of Missouri that thinks I’m Satan on a horse,” McCaskill said. “They’re watching Fox News. I got 35 percent of Missouri that thinks I can do no wrong. They’re watching MSNBC. And I got 30 percent of Missouri that’s watching The View and think we’re all crazy.”

McCaskill visited MU on Friday to speak to students and locals in Hulston and Cornell halls.

She touched on the recent events in Ferguson during her lecture in Cornell Hall.

McCaskill said there is a need for reform in what she called a “racially divided community,” in which little has been done to hire a police force that proportionally represents the 70 percent of Ferguson residents who are African American.

McCaskill said she plans to fund organizations that train African Americans to assume leadership roles in their communities.

Students at both lectures were given the opportunity to ask McCaskill questions.

MU law student Anthony Vibbard — president of the Federal Society, a student organization that organizes debates around campus — asked McCaskill what young people can do to help improve bipartisanship in Congress.

McCaskill was quick to highlight redistricting policies as a cause for political divide. She said that only 12 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives represent swing districts.

“What we need most in our democracy right now is someone fighting for compromise,” McCaskill said. “Everyone is so wedded to an ideology that is so far to the right or to the left. You guys can change district lines. Make politicians earn the support of the voters.”

Curtis Soul, a Vietnam War veteran in attendance, thanked McCaskill for the work she has done for veterans — specifically the benefits veterans receive for their service.

Soul said he it took 16 years before he received the payment he needed to treat a spine injury he received during his service after 16 years.

Soul thanked McCaskill for investigting medical personnel and holding them accountable.

“If you had a problem with your shoulder from firing a gun, doctors would say: ‘Everybody did that to your shoulder except the military,’ (and) they’d withhold your benefits,” Soul said.

Junior Gunnar Johansson asked McCaskill what she thought of the role of corporations in campaign finance.

McCaskill began by noting, with a palpable degree of disgust, that Missouri is the only state in the union that allows unlimited campaign donations from lobbyists.

She went on to denounce secret campaign finance money coming from 'super' political action committees, and joked that some of them have preposterous names.

“If there’s an ad on the TV that says, ‘paid for by the American flag,' ‘apple pie,' or ‘your mom,’ don’t pay attention to those ads,” she said. “They’re usually 95 percent wrong anyway.”

McCaskill closed her visit with advice for all the students at MU.

“If you’re not doing anything that’s bigger than your immediate friends and family, then figure it out and do better,” she said. “If you do something that is outside your frame of reference, you will be rewarded.”

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