Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) won't join President Obama when he visits St. Louis on Tuesday, prompting claims by Republicans that she is avoiding an appearance with the president, whose poll numbers are underwater in Missouri.
But Missouri Republicans have pointed to a more cynical reason for the first-term senator to stay in Washington: McCaskill's GOP opponents already have their video cameras fired up to capture footage of her appearing chummy with Obama. That footage will inevitably end up in campaign ads tying her to the president, in hopes that his reelection struggles might complicate her own.
McCaskill, a fiscally conservative Democrat who took her seat from a Republican in 2006 by a slim margin, is considered one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2012.
She was an early supporter of Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Yet her chances for reelection hinge on her ability to distance herself from Obama and portray herself as an independent voice for Missouri who is willing to buck the national Democratic party.