Republicans at the national level know they’re in for a tough fight in this year’s U.S. Senate contest in Missouri as they try to hold onto incumbent Republican Jim Talent’s seat. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, in Kansas City to attend the Missouri GOP’s annual Lincoln Days weekend, says Claire McCaskill is a strong opponent, and Republicans will make clear her views to Missouri voters. He says the effort starts by showing McCaskill is really no different than U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean – whom he calls liberals – on issues such as surveillance of potential terrorists. Mehlman says the differences between Republicans and Democrats on national security matters and on confirming strict constructionist judges work for Republicans in states like Missouri. So, those issues will receive a lot of attention in the months to come. Also attending the weekend event was U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who says the reelection of Jim Talent is critical to Republican efforts to keep control of the Senate and to promote the party’s agenda on Capitol Hill.