U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) blasted intra-party opponent and state Sen. Chris McDaniel on Tuesday, calling him an “extremist” and “dangerous,” according to local affiliate WDAM.
“He’s an extremist. He said he wouldn’t vote for disaster assistance for Mississippi. That is the most outrageous thing I’ve heard from a public official in Mississippi,” Cochran said, according to a transcript provided by a spokesman.
“I can’t believe that he is serious but apparently he is serious. He doesn’t want any federal money to be used to help out Mississippi after a hurricane has struck the Gulf Coast. Katrina. Did he go down there and look to see what happened and how much money was going to be required to restore all of that? I’m the one that got the money appropriated, through the Senate, and others of course in our delegation worked hard to do that and he is indicting that kind of use of power and influence in Washington. It would be dangerous to have somebody like him elected.”
Cochran’s comments come in the midst of an increasingly intensecampaign leading up to a June 24 runoff election. The stop at USM was part of his runoff strategy to call attention to federal funding he has provided the region. The Cochran campaign and its supporters have branded McDaniel as someone who would deeply cut federal education funding. At the USM stop, Cochran said Mississippi would be hit “hardest” from McDaniel’s supported cuts to federal projects.
In response, McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch told Business Insider Cochran’s comments prove he is “out of touch.”
“Sen. Cochran’s claims show how out of touch he is with conservative, hardworking Mississippians. There is nothing extreme about fighting to repeal Obamacare, fighting for fiscal responsibility in Washington, and fighting to protect our conservative Mississippi values,” Fritsch said.
“The only thing that is extreme is Sen. Cochran’s record of voting with the Democrats to raise taxes, increase spending, and even voting to fund Obamacare with taxpayer dollars over his 41 years in Washington. Mississippians deserve a senator who represents their conservative values — not Washington’s values.”
A source close to McDaniel also pointed to 2012 comments from former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a staunch supporter of Cochran. Barbour said then he thought the Department of Education should be abolished. McDaniel has said the Department of Education is “unconstitutional,” and he would work to abolish it if he were elected to the Senate.
The Mississippi Senate primary, which has been called the nastiest campaign fight in the nation, proceeded to a runoff after neither Cochran nor McDaniel garnered the required 50% of votes in last Tuesday’s primary election. Since then, establishment Republicans have made clear their concern a McDaniel nomination would potentially make it easier for a Democrat to take the state’s Senate seat.
If Democrats do end up facing off with McDaniel in the general election Cochran’s remarks may have provided a preview of their strategy. On Democratic strategist also used the word “extremist” to describe how national Democrats would look to defeat McDaniel.
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