Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) already twice said he didn’t know very much about the Tea Party, now he’s using the same line on a new immigration pledge that’s quickly gaining signers since it was released earlier this week.
“I haven’t looked at it,” Cochran said when asked about the new anti-amnesty pledge from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). “I think I’ll read it,” he added.
Cochran’s primary opponent, state senator Chris McDaniel, was the first candidate to sign the new pledge and is making immigration a major issue in the race. Cochran has voted against major amnesty proposals in the past but has a relatively low score on the NumbersUSA vote scorecard for a series of votes on amendments and less important bills.
Asked by The Hill newspaper about the pledge, Cochran said said he would not allow his “opponent or any pressure group try to get commitments from me about how to vote on something that isn’t an issue before the Senate.”
McDaniel signed the pledge on Monday and it was widely announced–covered by Breitbart News and many other conservative outlets, earning him an endorsement from radio’s Laura Ingraham. McDaniel has been touting the pledge on the campaign trail too, pushing press releases and discussing it any chance he gets.
FAIR’s new pledge includes three planks. The first is to oppose “any form of work authorization” for illegal aliens. The second is to oppose legislation that would increase the number of legal immigrants. The third is to oppose bills that increase the number of “guest workers.”
Its origin, officials said, was to eliminate the ambiguity surrounding candidates’ immigration views. Republican candidates have sometimes vowed to oppose “amnesty” on the campaign trail, a loaded term that almost no lawmaker says they support, only to vote for bills decried as “amnesty” by immigration hawks once in office.
Ingraham has aggressively promoted the pledge, getting candidates in races all across the country to sign it–and if they do, she considers endorsing them. A number of candidates in high-profile races have signed the pledge, including primary opponents to Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC).
When McDaniel signed the pledge, he called on Cochran to join him in signing it. “At this point in our history, silence is complicity. If you’re going to be silent in this fight, you’re part of the problem,” McDaniel said, adding that Cochran “should courageous enough to engage and sign this pledge–and then fight for those workers.”
Noel Fritsch, a spokesman for McDaniel, reacted to the Hill story by urging Cochran again to sign the pledge.
“By signing the FAIR immigration reform pledge, Thad Cochran can show he puts the American worker ahead of D.C insiders and corporate rent seekers who donate to his campaign and lobby for cheap labor provided by illegal immigrants,” Fritsch said.