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MATTHEWS: We`re back. Pundits declared Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill the underdog earlier this year in her race against Todd Akin. But she battled back and won a decisive victory against Mr. "Legitimate Rape", returning to the Senate. She`s now one of the leading moderates in her party and she says her top goal right now in the lame duck session that`s coming up is to find a compromise with Republicans on the issue of taxes and spending.
What exactly would that look like?
Welcome back to HARDBALL, Senator McCaskill. And thank you for coming on
from the Russell Building.
This is the classic American dilemma. Missouri is a moderate state, somewhere near the middle. Your state voted for George Romney by about 50- some -- Mitt Romney, rather, maybe George Romney had his chance there, too. You won by 55 percent to 39 percent. Romney won your state by 54 percent to Obama`s 44 percent. How do you represent a state that voted for you and Romney?
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Well, it`s not hard as long as you
are trying to solve problems instead of play politics. I think compromise
is what the Senate should be about. It`s what it`s always been about in
And finding -- you know, our Founding Fathers were really smart. They have
-- the people have equal power regardless of what size or kind of state you`re from. And that is supposed to be an environment where we come together and hash out our differences and agree to compromise.
So, I want to be part of that middle that finds those compromises, which we
have to have to solve hard problems.
MATTHEWS: Well, my belief is I want to compromise, too, but I don`t think you`re going to get the liberal core of your party, the Democratic Party, to support anything until they see the vampire bites on the necks of the Republicans, until they see them taking a piece out of them on the issue of
high income taxation. Are they going to give on entitlements? They`re not
going to give.
MCCASKILL: Well --
MATTHEWS: What do you think? You know the politics.
MCCASKILL: I think that there are ways we can move forward. And everyone
has to understand we are the majority party because we have moderates in our caucus. And the Republicans need to understand that these tax cuts are going to go away at the end of the year if they don`t get reasonable. And once they go away, then we can come back in and pass tax cuts for the middle class and leave the very wealthy out of that equation.
So, there is pressure here on both sides of the equation. We`ve got a real debt and deficit problem. We need to be serious about it, while we protect the middle class. And I`m so hopeful that we can find some combination of an increase in rates for the wealthy, some limitation on deductions to the wealthy and some kind of means testing for Medicare that would -- you know, we don`t need to be buying Donald Trump`s prescription drugs, Chris.
MCCASKILL: We can do this --
MATTHEWS: For a number of reasons.
MCCASKILL: Yes, for a number of reasons, although he may need the drugs,
we don`t need to be buying them.
We need to also look at spending cuts across the board. Maybe not as -- with a two-by-four like the sequestration but surgically, we need to look at spending cuts.
And all those things need to be on the table and we need all quit trying to play politics with this and get it done.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question on the social front. John McCain, the
other day, and I think I read him clearly on one of the Sunday shows with Chris Wallace, he said basically -- I read him this way, abortion rights shouldn`t be a partisan issue.
Do you think that`s an issue that should stay on the table as a party -- your party is pro-choice, the other party is pro-life, to use the shorthand. Is that something that should cease being a political or a partisan debate? Should we just basically go to free -- I think he`s sort of saying it shouldn`t be a partisan issue. It may be a personal/political issue.
MCCASKILL: Well, I think the Republican Party has a real problem with women.
MCCASKILL: If you look at the next Congress, there will not be one committee in the House of Representatives that will be led by a woman. If you look at just the Violence Against Women Act, this has never been a controversial provision. How dare the House of Representatives sit on that legislation? It passed the Senate with a bipartisan number. It sits in the House languishing.
You know, violence against women is a real problem in this country. That legislation is thoughtful and it`s needed. So, if the Republicans are worried --
MATTHEWS: What`s their problem? What`s their problem? It seems good politics to vote for that. Why would they vote against their interests?
Why are Republicans so hard-nosed about this? What is it?
MCCASKILL: I think it`s the same problem they had, frankly, with a very extreme position that Congressman Akin expressed which was --
MCCASKILL: -- that rape victims should not be entitled to get the morning- after pill. So, you know, there`s a core of the Republican Party that wants to drag this country to the edge of the world. And meanwhile, like the Violence Against Women Act --
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m just glad you got one to run against you. Senator, I`m just glad you found one to run against you. That`s all I care about because you`re a moderate on many issues, a moderate. Some of them are left, but many of them a moderate. I think you`re a great voice to have out there for Missouri. Thank you very much, Senator Claire McCaskill.
MCCASKILL: Thanks so much.
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