Students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City had an opportunity to ask U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill questions during a campaign stop Monday.
The Democrat, who is running for re-election against Republican Josh Hawley, was looking to connect with younger voters, though several in the crowd were older. But McCaskill was determined to focus on the students.
"The number of people in this room today, you could decide this election," she said. But, she added, if each person in the room who has spent 24 hours playing video games or on Instagram in the past 57 days spent that time campaigning with her ahead of the Nov. 6 election, it might not be as close.
Students raised topics like sexual violence on college campuses, health insurance and climate change. McCaskill struck a moderate tone in her answers, emphasizing the importance of due process for those accused of sexual assault and pointing out that she didn't agree with all of former President Barack Obama's EPA regulations.
"But there was a middle ground, there almost always is you guys," she said. "I know some of you think I'm not far enough left, and you don't like to hear this. The middle ground is where we get things done."
Student Ashton Hall, 20, asked her opinion of recreational marijuana. McCaskill brushed off the question, joking that it had "been a long time."
"I was kind of disappointed that she didn't give more of an answer," Hall said. "But I am fortunate that she believes that medical marijuana should be implemented."
After last week's Senate confirmation hearings, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh came up a few times, but McCaskill did not share how she plans to vote.
"Listen, this is a process," she said. "I am not like some of my colleagues. I've got some colleagues that no matter who Trump nominates they vote 'no.' I don't do that. In fact, I have voted for more than half of President Trump's cabinet members, I've voted for two-thirds of his judicial nominees."
McCaskill promised to base her decision on his resume and the issues, and to explain her decision to voters when the time comes. That resonated with UMKC student Bayley Brooks.
"I like that she's taking the time herself to go look at these documents, and get all the facts before making a decision," Brooks told KCUR. "But I'm hoping she decides against him."
UMKC student Adam Sisk told KCUR he appreciated the way McCaskill made him feel included. He was a first-time voter in the 2016 election, and said he came to the event because he wants to be as informed as possible before voting this year.
In closing, McCaskill asked the crowd what it would take to get them to turn out in November. A few students voiced the difficulty of fitting voting into their schedules, suggesting early voting and even making election day a holiday.
KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
KCUR news intern Celisa Calacal contributed to this report.