Claire McCaskill is seldom in a position where she doesn’t give quick and straightforward answers to a reporter’s questions. But today was one of those days.

She has weekly teleconferences with Missouri reporters and today was the first one since the elections in which her party took a whipping from Republicans in the House and got a pretty good slap in the Senate. We couldn’t resist asking a pertinent question.

Can Democrats in the House and the Senate could afford to keep dancing with the date than brung ’em to this point.

BP: Given the rhetoric we heard during the campaign, can the Democrats afford to keep Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in leadership positions next year?

CM: (long pause) Ummm, oh….you know, I am— (pause) My uh, desire to be candid and diplomatic are really in conflict right now. And it’s probably better I, that I just don’t address that question.

(longer pause)

BP: Would you, Would—Is there a choice you could make? Would you think that one should go and one should stay?

CM: You know, Bob, I um, I have certainly– I’m willing to stand up to my party in many, many instances including you know offering an amendment to pull Nancy Pelosi’s earmark out of the farm bill, for gosh sakes. I am disappointed by my party’s reluctance to embrace fully the message that was sent at this past election. And, um, And I’m just going to leave it at that.

AUDIO: 70 seconds

Republicans made considerable hay out of lumping “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid” together with phrases such as “the radical Obama agenda” during the campaign and then tying that rhetorical tin can to the tail of any donkey they could find. That tin can became awfully heavy.

Today, House Democrats picked Pelosi as their minority leader 150-43 over a candidate who said it probably was not wise for the party to put somebody in as minority leader after having lost sixty House seats.

Senate Democrats will decide on their leadership later. But there’s this new note about Reid: He has hired a new Chief of Staff, David Krone. Krone just happens to have been his largest campaign contributor—$35,000 (according to the Center for Public Integrity and the Federal Elections Commission). Krone is a former lobbyist for the telecommunications industry.

McCaskill is up for re-election in two years. The clanking sounds you hear are Republicans locking and loading.

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