Six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) told the Associated Press that he won’t debate his primary challenger, state senator Chris McDaniel, because McDaniel is “trying to make me look bad by things he’s saying about my performance in the Senate.”
“I don’t know what there is to debate,” Cochran told the Associated Press in late April in Batesville, MS – a comment first reported by the AP on May 2. “He obviously is going to criticize my record of service. We disagree on some of the issues. And there are probably some things that we can agree on. But he’s obviously, you know, trying to make me look bad by things he’s saying about my performance in the Senate.”
Cochran is facing the most competitive reelection challenge of his career from the Tea Party-backed McDaniel. McDaniel has challenged Cochran to debate on television so voters in the state can see the two candidates side-by-side, but Cochran has continued to refuse to do so.
The conservative Club For Growth, which has endorsed McDaniel, is running television ads in Mississippi criticizing Cochran for refusing to debate.
“What’s Thad Cochran scared of?” the Club’s president, Chris Chocola, said in a statement. “Is he worried that Mississippi voters might reject his record of debt limit increases, bailouts, tax hikes, and pay raises? Is he afraid that Mississippi voters might realize he’s been there too long?”
McDaniel said in a recent interview that Cochran’s refusal to debate a Republican primary challenger should make voters question whether he can even stand up to Democrats in Washington.
“It is beyond comprehension that a man who claims to serve the people does not think he owes them a debate as he asks for what would be his 7th term in the U.S. Senate,” McDaniel said. “If Thad Cochran won’t stand up to try to defend his liberal voting record in a debate with a two-term Mississippi state senator, what makes us think he’ll stand up to Harry Reid and Barack Obama?”
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, a well-respected Mississippi newspaper, recently called on Cochran to debate McDaniel in an editorial, saying it is “unbecoming” of Cochran to refuse to engage in the democratic process.