By HENRY C. JACKSONAssociated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2012, plans to skip the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
McCaskill said Tuesday she will spend the week campaigning in her home state instead. She joined a growing list of Democrats in conservative districts who have decided to avoid the convention, which will be a showcase of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
"Would you go to North Carolina for a bunch of parties and glad-handing, or would you stay home and work as hard as you know how and convince Missourians they should rehire you?" McCaskill said Tuesday between Senate votes.
But McCaskill insisted her decision was not about avoiding Obama. She said she's asked the President to campaign with her and will join Vice President Joe Biden for an event soon. McCaskill noted that she appeared recently with Obama at an event in Joplin, Mo.
"Of course," she said when asked if she would stand on the same stage as Obama.
Missouri was one of the few swing states that did not vote for Obama in 2008, and his approval ratings are stubbornly low there. Still, McCaskill's absence will be notable: She played a prominent surrogate role for Obama in 2008, offering an early endorsement in his primary race against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and continuing to offer support throughout the general election.
McCaskill attended the 2008 convention, though she was not up for re-election that year. In the past, she has regularly skipped her party's convention when she is on the ballot. In 2004, for example, she did not attend the convention even though she was running for governor in Missouri.
Republicans have said repeatedly that McCaskill is one of their top Senate targets in 2012. The GOP needs to net four seats to take control of the Senate, a task both parties believe will be difficult unless McCaskill is unseated.
Each of McCaskill's three potential Republican opponents has sought to tie her to Obama, a reflection of the president's low standing in the state. In interviews, she has said she will not run away from Obama - whom she calls a personal friend - but says she also will not hesitate to point out areas where they disagree.
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