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MO-Sen: Final debate between McCaskill and Hawley a blame game as both fight for an edge in the race

The third and final debate between Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (R) and her Republican challenger Josh Hawley (L) began with a blame game over the deterioration of America's political discourse. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

The final debate between Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley, began Thursday with each candidate calling for civil discourse — and quickly deteriorated into a blame game over who is responsible for America's increasingly heated political climate.

McCaskill and Hawley are both fighting for an edge in the race that is one of the closest in the country.

What are the details?

In the event hosted by KMBC-TV, the candidates were asked about the ongoing tribal political rhetoric at the national level and were reminded that they had called each other names and insulted one another at times during the race.

Hawley denied attacking McCaskill personally, yet voiced concern over what he called the "culture of incivility, and confrontation, and even outright violence that we're seeing across the country."

He listed examples of inflammatory comments made by prominent Democrats in recent weeks, protesters driving people out of restaurants, and the "mobs popping up" during the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the situation "terrible."

"I'm disappointed that the Democrat Party seems to have embraced this," Hawley said. "I condemn that no matter who does it."

McCaskill responded, "You know, it's really interesting to listen to his answer, because did you notice he blamed it all on the Democrats? That's the problem. This is a problem on both sides."

The incumbent senator argued that the ads run against her by Hawley during the race were "incredibly personal" and said both sides need to "turn down the temperature" and work together. She then took aim at President Donald Trump's rhetoric, criticizing Hawley for not "calling out anybody on the Republican side."

"This is so ridiculous," McCaskill said. "There is incredibly incendiary rhetoric used by the president at his rallies from time to time — we all know that — I'm not blaming it all on him," she clarified.

What did McCaskill say about the president?

Yet later in the debate, she doubled down on the president, saying, "I just don't think that we should be setting an example that the leader of the most amazing nation in the world thinks it's OK to lie all the time. Just lie after lie after lie."

Who's ahead in the polls?

McCaskill and Hawley have been neck and neck in the polls, in a state President Trump won by 19 points in 2016. The Hawley campaign released an internal poll earlier this week, showing him with a 7-point lead over the sitting senator, while the average from RealClearPolitics shows the challenger ahead by 0.2 points.

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