BILOXI, Mississippi — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was scheduled to appear at a campaign event at the airport here in south Mississippi for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) on Sunday evening, but wasn’t able to attend.
But even though McCain wasn’t here today, Cochran’s campaign implied in an email to supporters that he was.
“Thad was thrilled with the turnout tonight on the Gulf Coast,” Cochran’s campaign wrote in a mass email. “If you know folks who weren’t able to be there, they can still meet Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tomorrow morning in Jackson.”
Brian Rogers, McCain’s spokesman, said McCain’s “flight connection to Gulfport delayed and then canceled due to weather. He’s in Jackson now, and looks forward to tomorrow’s event.”
The 100 or so people there at the rally–including Gulport Mayor Billy Hewes, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) and Cochran himself–just went on without McCain.
According to a GOP operative working for neither Cochran’s campaign nor state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s campaign, Hewes told the about 100 people present that McCain’s plane had mechanical difficulties and couldn’t land at Gulfport’s airport.
“Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) only spoke for about five minutes,” the operative said. “The congressman and mayor spoke for a total of about 25 minutes combined.”
The operative said Hewes guaranteed the crowd McCain would appear at a Cochran event up in Jackson, MS, on Monday. Cochran’s campaign sent out a release that McCain would be at the Mississippi War Memorial Building at 8:45 a.m. Monday with Cochran.
While it was raining off and on in the Biloxi and Gulfport areas of Mississippi throughout the day Sunday with slight sun showers–and there was heavy rain in the area for about a half an hour leading up to the scheduled McCain rally–the Tea Party Express and McDaniel held a Tea Party rally with about 200 people, including former game show host Chuck Woolery and nationally syndicated radio host Lars Larson, outside in the parking lot at the Biloxi Hobby Lobby store.
That rally lasted about two hours.
“It’s kind of embarrassing that Thad could only get 100 people to an indoor event with a fellow U.S. senator and former GOP presidential candidate, when McDaniel could get 200 people to an event outside in the heat and rain with Chuck Woolery and Lars Larson,” the GOP operative told Breitbart News.
In 2008, McCain and Cochran traded barbs after Cochran said he wouldn’t trust McCain as president. “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” Cochran said then of McCain, while he supported Mitt Romney that year. “He is erratic. He is hot-headed. He loses his temper and he worries me.”
In response to that Cochran quote, McCain told Meet The Press that he’s “known and loved Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) for years.”
“I’ve felt we always had a very close, warm relationship,” McCain said. “My family goes back to the state of Mississippi. His colleague Trent Lott is of course one of my strongest and best supporters. I have a wide circle of supporters, conservative and moderate–Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn.”
McCain added that though he “loves” Cochran, Cochran is an “appropriator” and “I’ve fought him time after time on these pork-barrel projects many of which have been harmful to our economy and our environment.”
“We’ve had strong words from time to time about pork-barrel spending,” McCain continued. “He’s one of the great pork-barrelers and he’s very proud of that.”