St Louis Beacon: Missouri Republicans zero in on top Democrats and unions at Lincoln Days gathering
February 26, 2011
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Top Missouri Republicans took aim this weekend at the state’s top Democrats — Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill — and labor unions as the GOP exuded optimism about its chances, locally and in Washington, of ousting more Democrats after last fall’s rout.
“Unless we finish the job in 2012, all will be lost,” declared veteran Republican activist Ann Wagner, one of several Senate hopefuls appealing to hundreds of GOP faithful gathered in Springfield this weekend for the state party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities.
mccaskill100claireWagner100annWagner(left) — who has yet to declare her candidacy — lobbed some of the weekend’s sharpest red-meat attacks against McCaskill (right), such as dubbing the senator “Chameleon Claire” in a speech Saturday morning before the state Republican Party’s executive committee.
Wagner asserted that McCaskill has been trying to hide from the public her “bluer than blue” voting record and recast herself as more conservative. “She blew it,” Wagner declared.
State Republican Party chairman David Cole joined in with a joke that touched off cheers at the Friday night banquet. Cole took note of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s broken arm and quipped, ”There’s no truth to the rumor that Claire McCaskill knocked her down in a mad rush to the right.”
But Saturday night’s keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., warned that the stakes of Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest in 2012 were serious.
“Missouri is going to be right at the center. Right at Ground Zero,” Thune said. For the GOP to change the nation’s direction, he continued, “We need a majority in the U.S. Senate and Missouri will figure prominently…”