Path to Power
McCaskill was born July 24, 1953, in Rolla, Mo., and was the second of four children. Her father, William, worked in the insurance industry, and the family was active in the state Democratic Party. McCaskill's mother, Betty, was the first woman ever elected to the city council of Columbia, Mo., and was known for blowing the whistle on secret council shenanigans. William spent some time in public office as well, serving as the state insurance commissioner for Democratic Gov. Warren Hearnes.
McCaskill's political talents were evident early on, and in high school her aptitude for public speaking quickly came to the fore. When she was in the 9th grade, McCaskill took the top prize in a speech contest with a screed against racial prejudice that began with an attention-grabbing recitation of a Klu Klux Klan pledge.
Missouri is America's perennial swing state, so McCaskill walks a fine line in the Senate.To keep the trust of her constituents back home, she must carefully maintain her centrist credentials. To that end, she has supported pocketbook issues such as child care and college tuition tax credits while fighting against earmark spending.
McCaskill is a supporter of abortion rights and opposed an amendment that banned gay marriages in Missouri in 2004. She often downplayed these positions during her 2006 Senate run. "It's time that we start reading the Bible instead of knocking people over the head with it," McCaskill said at the time.
McCaskill maintains a close relationship with her former chief of staff, Sean Kennedy, who is one of her closest advisers and confidantes. Kennedy is now part of the Obama White House legislative affairs team.
McCaskill is still a relative newcomer in the Senate and has yet to form many close alliances with colleagues. Her one true connection - to President Obama - is enough to maker her a true power player in the Democratic Party.