Seeking re-election in 2018, McCaskill has made an effort to engage with rural Missouri communities, many of which voted heavily for Republican President Donald Trump.

This is the first of a two-part series examining U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s recent town hall meeting in Camdenton. The first part of this series provides an overview of the event, while the second part will dive into the substance of the questions asked and answered.

Engaging with both supporters and detractors, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) met with Democrats and Republicans for over an hour Thursday afternoon at the Camdenton United Methodist Church as part of a series of town halls throughout the state.

McCaskill stopped in Camdenton after leaving the area of Fort Leonard Wood and before heading to Bolivar. Seeking re-election in 2018, McCaskill has made an effort to engage with rural Missouri communities, many of which voted heavily for Republican President Donald Trump. Prior to this week where she’s held 10 town halls, the Democrat had previously held 18 town halls around the state during the height of the healthcare debate.

Serving since 2006 when she defeated a Republican incumbent to become the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, McCaskill became the state’s senior senator upon the retirement of Republican Kit Bond in 2011.

She was re-elected in 2012 and currently serves as the ranking minority member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. She also serves on the Committee of Armed Services; Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Special Committee on Aging.

Before taking hand-written submitted questions from the crowd of about 50 or so, McCaskill talked about her current work in the Senate and a little bit about her upbringing in Missouri which influences her positions on issues, sometimes bucking her party to side with conservative colleagues. She was also willing to answer questions blurted out by attendees that were at time off-track and unproductive.

McCaskill was proud to announce that President Trump had signed a bill two weeks ago related to Missouri veteran Arla Harrell, a 90-year-old Macon resident who said he was exposed to mustard gas during WWII at Fort Crowder in Missouri.

The Veterans Affairs Department had previously denied Harrell’s claim as the mustard gas experiments weren’t declassified until 1975 as well as oath of secrecy that was lifted in the 1990s.

McCaskill said about 400 men who participated are still believed to be alive and will be able to get help from the VA for their medical ailments caused from the government’s experiments.

The senator also said she was working on a bi-partisan bill to lower the cost of hearing aids down to about $350 dollars compared to the thousands of dollars they currently cost by slashing burdensome regulations.

McCaskill shared these examples as a way to express to the residents that despite the appearance that nothing is getting done in Congress, she and her colleagues are still working together and have more common ground than the news reports.

“We talk to each other, we work together, we are not always divided,” McCaskill said.

Though she stated she disagreed with a lot of President Trump’s agenda including pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, an unwillingness to expand gun laws and how Republicans approached the repeal and replace efforts of the Affordable Care Act, McCaskill did say her line was open anytime the President wanted to work on ideas that would benefit Missourians.

The U.S. Senator stated she had recent meetings with President Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor, Jared Kushner, as well as daughter, Ivanka, to have discussions on cyber security and information technology purchases for governmental entities, and a plan for paid-maternity leave, respectively.

“There are a lot of things getting in Trump’s way, I can’t claim to be one of them,” McCaskill said.