Democrats pounced, calling it an example of how Steelman was unprepared to lead.

"The thousands of victims of domestic violence here in Missouri would probably tell Sarah that Violence Against Women does, in fact, exist and remains a very serious issue," said party spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki.

Steelman's camp shot back by calling it a clumsy attempt by McCaskill's team to create phony campaign issues.

“Of course I am for stopping violence against women," Steelman said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that the Senate Democrats are making the current re-authorization of Violence Against Women bill into a political football. The Republicans are offering an improved version of the reauthorization bill and I want to review it."