MADISON, Mississippi–Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) told the Associated Press that if he’s re-elected, he plans to serve the full six years of what would be his seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
“I sure hope, if I am alive and well, I’ll be serving,” Cochran, who is facing a primary challenge from Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel, said when asked if he plans to serve all six year of a seventh term. “Yes, I think that’s something the people have a right to expect, and I intend to serve a full term.”
The pledge from Cochran is interesting because there’s lots of chatter among Mississippi GOP insiders about a potential ascension plan in the works.
For example, Bryan Shaver, a former aide to then-Congressman now Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), told Breitbart News he thinks “it’s common knowledge” that Cochran would only serve a couple years if re-elected then someone else would be appointed into the Senate seat. Shaver says to look at the case of Trent Lott, whose senate seat was given mid-term to Wicker.
“In that particular case, from what I understand, they wanted somebody else to run,” Shaver said. “But Wicker really wanted it and he hounded and hounded Haley [Barbour] forever. The other person didn’t want to do it, so they finally had to give it to Wicker. I don’t think Wicker was the first choice. I worked for Roger, and that was all just common knowledge. The same kind of common knowledge is going on with Thad.”
Shaver adds that he’s heard Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) is the likely choice for Cochran’s replacement, if that’s how it goes down, mid-term.
“I’ve been told that Phil Bryant likes Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) a whole lot,” Shaver said. “If you sit and look who in Mississippi is the heir apparent to Thad, again you go back and look at Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and you say, again, there was nobody else that was lined up to do it. What I have heard is that is what the governor wants. He wants Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) in that position.”
Asked about his health in the interview, Cochran replied: “I’m doing fine. I’m real lucky.”
Cochran, 76, is the 28th oldest currently serving member of Congress out of 535. Throughout the campaign, he’s faced a number of potshots, mostly from McDaniel supporters, that his age is starting to show. A person at a Cochran fundraiser told Breitbart News in April Cochran struggled to deliver a stump speech. And a key Tea Party activists released a video testimonial saying she met with Cochran on the day of the Supreme Court’s oral argument over Obamacare, and Cochran said he didn’t know about it. Cochran did speak about the oral arguments on the Senate floor at the time, however.
The AP conducted the interview with Cochran on April 25 at a tire factory in Batesville, MS, but only published the transcript Monday.
In the interview, Cochran also provided some grist for his opponents on the national debt, appearing relatively nonchalant about the problem and saying “a certain amount of debt is acceptable.”
“There is a large federal debt, and I think that is a danger to continued economic growth and prosperity,” Cochran said. “So, we have to be cautious and careful how we deal with it. A certain amount of debt is acceptable, I think. And the experts provide testimony at hearings every year when we’re reviewing federal requests from the federal government for spending funds to continue to operate their departments.”
Cochran also said he disagrees with McDaniel’s and conservative groups’ characterization of his record as liberal.
“I disagree with the criticism that my opponent is making of my service in the Senate,” Cochran said. “But I think I’ve acquitted myself with due diligence and have performed in a way that reflects credit on our state. I’ve been elected to leadership positions in the United States Senate by others who serve in the Senate from other states. I’ve been honored to have senior positions on committees like Appropriations. I’ve actually chaired the committee when the Republicans were in the majority, and I look forward to that opportunity again.”