Racially tinged comments from a Republican state senator and candidate for U.S. Senate in Mississippi have created controversy and opened up a new divide in one of the most high-profile Republican primaries in the nation.
Chris McDaniel is mounting a Republican challenge to Thad Cochran, who has held his seat in Mississippi since 1978. On Thursday, an audio clip from McDaniel’s past as a conservative radio host was posted online, including some insensitive comments on race. The Wall Street Journal first reported the comments.
The McDaniel campaign claims the clip is nearly a decade old, and accused the “liberal press” and establishment Republicans of dredging up the old comments.
In the clip, McDaniel was heard discussing the possibility of paying so-called “reparations” to descendants of slaves.
“If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain’t paying taxes,” he said on the clip.
McDaniel then went on to say the show should be moved and produced in Mexico.
“Why don’t we all immigrate south. Let’s go to Mexico!” he said. “You know, a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico. And I think we all get together, go down there, build us a studio for like 26 pesos, and put on a radio show right there in Mexico. Live the rest of our lives there!”
Another person in the studio then asked McDaniel if they would “have to learn Spanish.”
“Yes, regrettably,” McDaniel said. “You’ll have to learn just enough to ask where the bathroom is. Baños. Baños. That’s what you say.”
Following up on their discussion of the Spanish language, McDaniel then asked someone to translate the phrase, “Do you have a sister?”
After some discussion, he posited, “What about mamacita? Mamacita works. You say that at the wrong place at the wrong time, you will get beat down. Mamacita. It’s not a bad word. It’s just indicative. I’m an English-speaking Anglo. I have no idea what it means, actually, but I’ve said it a few times, just for, you know, fun. And I think it basically means, ‘Hey, hot mama.’ Or, you know, ‘You’re a fine looking young thing.'”
Later in the clip, McDaniel went on to discuss an ad for a Sony PlayStation Portable ad that had been criticised as racist. The commercial featured a white woman viciously holding a shorter black woman to promote the release of the white version of the PSP console. McDaniel noted a San Francisco politician had called the ad was racist, but he wondered why.
“She wasn’t holding down a gay guy!” he said.
The Mississippi Senate race is one of the most contentious in the nation, as it is being fought largely within the bounds of a divided state Republican Party. McDaniel’s campaign was quick to charge the “liberal press” and establishment Republicans with trying to make something new out of old comments.
“The liberal press clearly loves to attack conservatives of all types,” McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told Business Insider in a statement.
“When Chris got into this race he knew they would throw mud, so it’s no surprise they’d dredge up decade old comments made on conservative talk radio. Chris will continue to deliver his conservative message of controlling government spending, lowering taxes, and repealing Obamacare across the state.”
In turn, some in the establishment were quick to point to the comments as exemplary of a flawed Tea Party challenger who could open up the seat to the possibility of a Democratic takeover and experience an implosion along the lines of failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin.
The Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, two conservative groups that have backed McDaniel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about McDaniel’s remarks.
One Republican official told Business Insider it doesn’t make sense to compare McDaniel to Akin — who made the now-infamous remarks about “legitimate rape” and abortion in 2012 — given McDaniel’s record, the lack of a viable Democratic challenger, and Mississippi’s decidedly Republican electorate.
Here’s the full clip:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.