KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has the full support of the White House in his push to turn Claire McCaskill's seat red on Tuesday.
Halfway into his term as Missouri Attorney General, Josh Hawley preached about not climbing political ladders when he ran for office two years ago.
Hawley says too much is at stake and that is why he is running for the senate.
In our Conversation with the Candidates, reporter Steven Dial talked with Hawley on his tour bus.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following transcript was edited for clarity.
Steven: Thank you for having us on your bus. How many hours have you spent on this bus?
Hawley: More than I can count. We have been all over the state. I got two little boys and they love it, they think this whole thing is about them; they think it’s a big party.
Steven: You've consistently said there are many things separating you from Claire McCaskill.
Hawley: I think we need someone who will vote with the state of Missouri. My biggest thing with Claire, I don’t think she is a bad person at all, she is a good person, 36 years of service to this state and county and I applaud her. She just doesn’t vote with Missouri. She votes with her party 90 percent of the time. We don’t need a party line liberal.
Steven: Why jump into this race when you just became attorney general?
Hawley: I think our country is on the line. This election is about saving our country, it wasn't our plan, but this needs to be done. The Supreme Court is so important, our rights are at issue, our future. The Brett Kavanaugh smear shows you the stakes. The Supreme Court, securing our border, jobs from overseas; This is about saving our country and that’s why I am running.
Steven: Talk about pre-existing conditions. You said Claire has talked about your son having a pre-existing condition. Will you make sure pre-existing conditions are still in whatever healthcare there is?
Hawley: You have to require it in the law, you can’t hope for the best, it has to be required in the law. You have to require that insurance companies protect people like my boy that has a pre-existing condition. You have to require them on the same terms as everyone else. I want to do it apart from Obamacare. That’s the big difference. She says you have to have Obamacare.
Steven: People say you have a lawsuit that does away with pre-existing conditions.
Hawley: It’s about Obamacare. I want to repeal and replace. We are paying 144% higher prices for healthcare in this state because of Obamacare. We can’t afford their deductibles because of Obamacare. The lawsuit would get rid of Obamacare, but we have to protect pre-existing conditions and young folks under the age of 26.
Steven: The President and Vice President has been here several times. How do you take all that support but still be an independent voice for Missourians not just loyal to the president?
Hawley: I always say my test is Missouri first, Missouri last, Missouri always. I support the President because he is doing a good job for this state. I think he and the VP are doing a good job for the state. I have shown as Attorney General that I am not afraid to stand up to my party when they are doing the wrong thing.
Steven: You think Claire McCaskill should take her name off of a bill in reference to immigration. Why?
Hawley: Senator McCaskill is sponsoring an open borders bill. It is written by the senator from California. Sen. McCaskill says she is for border security and says we need to secure the border, but she voted against the wall. So I said ‘Show us, show this state that you really are for border security and take your name off the bill.’
Steven: Do you think the wrong emphasis is being put on the border? Who is trying to get in? When the President says there are Middle Easterners trying to get in, do you take that at face value?
Hawley: The vice president says he has seen evidence of human traffickers and left wing groups trying to fund it, so I think it is a serious issue. We see problems with drugs, gangs and violence. We need to secure the border.
Steven: What do you have to say in reference to a report that you have out of state consultants running your office?
Hawley: That is one of the most absurdly false stories that I have ever read. It is absolutely false. I am proud of the work I've done as Attorney General. I am proud of the work that has come out of that office. We have 100 criminal convictions, hundreds more on appeal and returned over 30 million in consumer protection fraud money.
Steven: So no one ran your office?
Hawley: Nobody ran that office but me and I am responsible for everything that has happened in that office just like she is responsible for every vote she has taken in the Senate.
Steven: You are a dad and a husband. You still did trick or treating. How do you balance that?
Hawley: I have an amazing wife and we do it together. Wur boys are on the road with us a lot. I also prioritize. I want to get home at the end of the day and kiss my boys goodnight. I made parent teacher conferences earlier this week. We got to do his first parent teacher conference. I have to stay true to that and I won’t let anything come between me and that.