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In Missouri, Claire McCaskill Opts for Low-Key Campaign Swing

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

In 2006, McCaskill beat Sen. Jim Talent, 50-47. In 2002, Talent beat Sen. Jean Carnahan, 50-49. In 2000, Carnahan was appointed to the seat after Sen. John Ashcroft was defeated 51-48, by her late husband, Mel Carnahan, whose name had remained on the ballot after his death in a plane crash.

Even so, Myers, who identified himself as "very conservative" said he was "disappointed" in her answer. He said he believes the real reason the race is so close is that McCaskill voted for the 2010 health care reform law, which is unpopular with many Missourians. When Myers, who was wearing an athletic T-shirt from his home town of Rolla, was informed that the Senator was born in Rolla, he expressed surprise. "I had no idea," he said, adding, "Rolla doesn't exactly claim her."

Two days later in Warrensburg, McCaskill was asked about her vote for the Affordable Care Act and said she still supported it, saying it was the product of compromise and that "I do think it will work." However, she said it was still difficult to get out the word on the positive aspects of the law. "People are clinging to misinformation ... like a life raft," she said.

Any way McCaskill can cut into Republican margins in central Missouri is key to her re-election prospects. Generally in statewide elections here, Democrats do very well in metro Kansas City and St. Louis and struggle in other regions of the state. McCaskill's success in being elected statewide three times, twice as state auditor and once as Senator, has hinged on running well in the cities and getting closer in everyplace else. And the more students who support her in places such as Fulton or Maryville, the easier her task.

"Get involved. Volunteer. We need you," she told the Westminster crowd, as she did others. And she warned against any complacency among her supporters. "Don't let anyone tell you that this race will be anything but close," she said in Warrensburg.

Given her attention to the race, the call to skip Charlotte was likely an easy one. Instead of swapping campaign war stories and lapel pins, McCaskill went hunting for votes.

Whether the national stage that a convention in St. Louis would have helped her more is impossible to know now. Other Senate candidates in tough races, such as Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, used the platform to not only sing the president's praises but also to make their own case for election.

Other Democrats, particularly those planning logistics, can only be left to wonder how the River City in Missouri would have compared to North Carolina's Queen City as a convention host.

The prospect of stormy weather in Charlotte eventually forced Democrats to move Obama's nominating speech from Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, indoors to the Time Warner Cable Arena, a smaller and less grand venue.

It's unlikely North America Trailer Dealers Association President Andy Ackerman ever entertained addressing his organization's trade show in the Edward Jones Dome, the indoor football stadium home of the NFL's St. Louis Rams that is adjacent to the America's Center complex. But if he had, any Missouri rain in the forecast would not have been a factor.

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