Sen. Claire McCaskill has had extra security since a comment last week by a St. Louis tea party activist, who said, “We have to kill the Claire bear."
The U.S. Capitol Police stepped up protection for the Missouri Democrat following comments by Tea Party Express member Scott Boston at rally last Thursday in Springfield.
“We have to kill the Claire bear ladies and gentlemen," Boston said, according to an audio tape of his remarks gathered by the Missouri Democratic Party and made available. "She walks around like she's some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something, but really she's an evil monster."
His remarks generated some applause, according to the tape.
The event was a rally by the Tea Party Express. Boston was there to introduce Amy Kremer, chairman of the national grassroots group, which has endorsed Sarah Steelman in the Republican U.S. Senate primary contest to choose an opponent to face McCaskill. Steelman also attended the rally.
Boston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tuesday that his comment was not meant as a threat against McCaskill, but was “comparing her to like a giant Care Bear. If I said anything, I said, 'We need to kill the Claire Bear,' this idea that Claire McCaskill is this wonderful person running around doing great things for us…In no way do I think the senator should be at all harmed."
McCaskill’s Senate office’s declined to comment about the extra security.
Comments using violent metaphors in the course of political campaigns have become, if not quite off-limits, then dangerous ground in the wake of the shooting last year of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona
Steelman, a former Missouri state treasurer, is one of three candidates seeking the GOP nomination. In a statement, she said that while she “may disagree with the words” that Boston used, “I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views."
Steelman mainly criticized the media. "When a conservative citizen makes a statement, the liberal press attacks it and spins it in the worst way,” she said, but it "applauds" comments like President Obama's during the 2008 campaign when he said, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
She also cited McCaskill's remark during 2010 debate over renewing the Bush tax cuts: "If (Republicans) think it's okay to raise taxes for the embattled middle class because they're going to pout if we don't give more money to millionaires, it really is time for people to take up pitchforks.”
"This is a typical double standard and why we conservatives are at war with the liberal establishment,” Steelman said.
One of Steelman's rivals for the GOP nomination, John Brunner, took a different tact:
“This type of rhetoric is unconscionable and I reject this kind of politics,” Brunner said. “Comments like these have no place in this U.S. Senate campaign, or any other campaign in this country, because they don’t represent American values.”
Caitlin Legacki, spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic party, said that Steelman should have spoken out more strongly against Boston’s comment.
"In this day and age, it's really disappointing that someone won't acknowledge when their friends and supporters have made inappropriate comments about something as serious as a threat like this," she said in a statement. "Missourians look to their leaders to step up and do the right thing when it comes to acts of violence and this sort of inflammatory language.”