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Senator Claire McCaskill spoke about her new book, “Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir,” at the most recent event of the Authors@Wharton speaker series.

Credit: Connor Augustine

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has been called everything from “Motormouth McCaskill” to “the most candid woman in the U.S. Senate.”

In the most recent event of the Authors@Wharton Speaker Series on Monday afternoon, Sen. McCaskill kept the packed room laughing as she discussed her new book, “Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir.” The autobiography chronicles McCaskill’s early life, her career as a lawyer and her journey as the first female senator from Missouri.

An inspiration to young female leaders, McCaskill thinks that more women should own their ambition, despite the perception that being strategic and calculating are masculine traits. Throughout her career, she has faced plenty of discrimination, but rather than letting it bring her down, she used it as fuel to improve. She said that no matter what, she’ll continue to strongly state her opinions without worrying too much about being liked.

“You can’t be an effective legislator without making someone mad,” McCaskill said.

She accepts that there will be disagreement across party lines, but thinks that hostility is unnecessary. In fact, she has a reputation for making friends with her opponents.

“Self-deprecating humor can work wonders in various situations,” she said. “If people know you’re capable of laughing at yourself, it makes you more relatable ... It’s hard to stay mad ... or see you as a bad guy.”

Sen. McCaskill said she loves to compromise, but is worried there are not a lot of other politicians who feel the same way. She cited several of the current presidential candidates as examples, pointing out that Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are all saying “no” to compromise.

“Nobody’s generating noise in the middle,” McCaskill said.

A President Obama supporter during the 2008 presidential race, McCaskill is now “all in” for Hillary Clinton, whom she believes will do a good job with foreign policy.

She recognizes what a historic step it would be to be able to say “Madam President.” A strong advocate for women in government, McCaskill is one of only 20 female senators.

“Our country will be better once we get to 60,” she said.

Director of Marketing and Communications for the Wharton Leadership Program Kate FitzGerald, who helps run the Authors@Wharton series, said Sen. McCaskill was chosen to speak because Authors@Wharton wanted to start off the year with a strong woman.

“[McCaskill teaches us that] anyone can make a difference ... If you have the perseverance and grit and backbone, you can accomplish something,” FitzGerald said.

Students who missed the event can check Knowledge@Wharton’s YouTube channel in the next few weeks to view a video recording of Sen. McCaskill’s talk.

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