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Sen. McCaskill distances herself from Warren, Sanders and ‘crazy Democrats’

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) debated Republican challenger Josh Hawley on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Facing a tough reelection battle, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is distancing herself from liberal members of her party, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — even as Warren’s leadership PAC donated to the Missouri Democrat’s campaign this cycle.

PAC for a Level Playing Field, which is affiliated with Warren, gave McCaskill $10,000 last year, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Republicans seized on the donation, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee arguing that McCaskill’s efforts to separate herself from leading Democrats were “laughable” in light of the funds.

The back-and-forth comes as McCaskill has taken aim at “crazy Democrats” in the final stage of her campaign against Missouri’s Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley. Polls show a close race.

“Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise,” a male voice says in one of McCaskill’s recent radio ads.

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She has also tried to distance herself from recognizable liberals such as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“I would not call my colleagues crazy, but Elizabeth Warren sure went after me when I advocated tooling back some of the regulations for small banks and credit unions,” McCaskill said in a Fox News Channel interview broadcast this week. “I certainly disagree with Bernie Sanders on a bunch of stuff.”

McCaskill was among 16 Senate Democrats who voted to advance a Republican-led rollback of banking regulations in March. At the time, Warren criticized those Democratic colleagues on Twitter and also rebuked them in a fundraising email, a move that ruffled feathers among some members of her caucus.

McCaskill told CNN this week that “the crazy Democrats are the people who are getting in the face of elected officials in restaurants and screaming at them. The crazy Democrats is whoever put a swastika on one of Josh Hawley’s signs in rural Missouri.”

Her strategy comes amid a broad push by Republicans to cast her and other Democrats running in conservative states as extremists and to link them to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.

Asked about McCaskill’s comments Wednesday, Hawley said: “I don’t know what Senator McCaskill means by all of that. I do know that she’s a liberal Democrat.” He accused McCaskill of trying to recast her record.

In the Fox interview, McCaskill referred to Maria Chapelle-Nadal, a Democratic state senator who wrote on Facebook last year that she hoped President Trump would be assassinated, as one the “crazy Democrats.”

Chapelle-Nadal criticized McCaskill on Twitter this week, using an expletive and writing: “Instead of knowing why people of color are angered by this administration, she chooses to put us & our families in harm’s way. If my family is harmed, blame it on Claire McCaskill. She deserves to lose. She is not a Democrat.”

John Wagner contributed to this report.