(This story is written by Missourinet St. Louis contributor Jill Enders)

Green Party U.S. Senate nominee Jo Crain (left), GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley, independent candidate Craig O’Dear and Senator Claire McCaskill (D) participated in the Missouri Press Association forum in Maryland Heights on September 14, 2018 (Jill Enders photo)

The candidates vying for Missouri U.S. Senate took center stage during their first debate Friday in eastern Missouri’s Maryland Heights. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley and two third-party candidates participated.

Health care was one of the major topics discussed on Friday. Attorney General Hawley, who joined a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, says he supports maintaining requirements of insurance companies covering pre-existing conditions.

“I will never support taking health coverage away from those with pre-existing conditions,” Hawley says, adding that one of his young sons has recently been diagnosed with a rare bone disease.

McCaskill responded by saying that Attorney General Hawley should have filed an amendment to the lawsuit, excluding pre-existing conditions.

The Missouri Press Association logo (courtesy of Missouri Press Association in Columbia)

“He wants the whole thing (Affordable Care Act) thrown out and he knows there’s nothing there to back it up,” says McCaskill.

Tariffs, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, tax returns and Senator McCaskill’s husband were other topics that were discussed.

Green Party nominee Jo Crain and independent candidate Craig O’Dear also participated in the forum.

McCaskill and Hawley focused their comments on each other, and did not mention the other two candidates.

There were about 200 to 250 people in the audience, primarily newspaper editors and newspaper reporters.

MPA held its 152nd annual convention at the Sheraton Westport Chalet.

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