The McCaskill campaign bus apparently hit the … air.
In a report Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon determined that the private plane of Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, took the same routes as her much-touted “Big Blue” RV for a May 29-31 tour by “Veterans for Claire” in the week following Memorial Day. Mrs. McCaskill said then that she was “very excited to hit the road.”
But according to a report by the Free Beacon’s Brett Scher, based on flight-data crowd-sourcing sites, the campaign’s plane traveled between the same Missouri towns the RV did.
“On Tuesday, May 29, for example, McCaskill’s tour took her from Waynesville in central Missouri, west to Springfield, and then further west to nearby Joplin, according to the campaign’s blog. The plane, according to the tracking data for the day, took the same route as the campaign RV,” Mr. Scher wrote.
There were more similarities for all but the last leg of the “road trip,” the Free Beacon reported.
The McCaskill campaign did not respond to the Free Beacon’s request for comments or details and as a result, it could not determine whether Mrs. McCaskill was herself in the air during her meet-the-voters road trip.
After the Free Beacon published its article though, Mrs. McCaskill spoke personally about the story to a friendlier journalistic outlet — a classic Washington spin tactic — and told Politico that the Free Beacon report was “not accurate” and “election-year silliness.”
“Anybody could have followed me. They could have seen when I got off the RV and when I went and got on the airplane,” she said.
However, while Mrs. McCaskill disputed whether she tried to hide her use of the plane, she confirmed that she did in fact use it.
“I added some stops with the use of the plane, but I was on the RV so much that the broken drawer drove me crazy,” she said Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol, adding that “I even lost an iPad around a corner on the RV.”
At the time of the road trip, the Free Beacon reported, the live-blog did not indicate a plane was involved and bragged about the use of the RV, asking at one point for donations because the vehicle had logged 700 miles and “gas is expensive” without mentioning the cost of jet fuel.
“It costs us $200 just to fill up the RV and with the number of places we plan on going — that adds up fast,” the campaign wrote. “Will you pitch in just $5 today to help fund our RV tour and power us to a victory in November?”
Either way, Mrs. McCaskill’s use of a plane is becoming a campaign issue in Missouri, Politico reported.
Mrs. McCaskill is seeking re-election as a Democrat in the conservative state that President Trump decisively won in 2016, and Republicans are eager to paint her as an out-of-touch Beltway elitist.
“Claire McCaskill is desperate to put on a folksy act when she’s back in Missouri, but she’s too much of an elitist to even stick to a three-day RV tour without hopping on her private plane,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera said.
Republican nominee Josh Hawley tweeted that Mrs. McCaskil’s “definition of being ‘the hardest working Democrat in the Party’ [is] Skipping out on her luxury RV to fly in her luxury jet. It must be good to be rich and liberal.”
.@clairecmc’s definition of being “the hardest working Democrat in the Party.” Skipping out on her luxury RV to fly in her luxury jet. It must be good to be rich and liberal. #MOSenhttps://t.co/IvjlSx6VxN— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 12, 2018
“I thought you sold the ‘damn plane,’” he continued, referring to a previous jet that Mrs. McCaskill sold to pay property taxes that she had failed to pay on the aircraft.
She also had to reimburse the Treasury Department more than $88,000 because she used her Senate office budget to charter dozens of flights chartered by a company incorporated by her husband.
“How about this: why don’t you give up using your luxury jet for the next 147 days? Just 147 days. You can do it. Come live like the rest of us. I dare you,” Mr. Hawley taunted.
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