Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) bid to appeal to Democratic voters in the Republican primary runoff appears to be in full swing, with the six-term incumbent leveling personal attacks against his primary challenger for the first time – from the left.
At a Tuesday campaign stop at the University of Southern Mississippi nursing school, Cochran called Tea Party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel an “extremist” who would be “dangerous” if elected.
“He’s an extremist,” Cochran said of McDaniel, according to local television station WDAM.
“It’d be dangerous to have somebody like him elected,” Cochran added.
Cochran said McDaniel’s positions on cutting spending would hurt Mississippi. “We have a lot of federal initiatives, and if he’s going to cut the budgets, we’re going to be the state that suffers the most,” Cochran said. “To me, that’s unthinkable.”
Throughout the campaign, Cochran has touted his work to bring federal dollars to Mississippi and questioned McDaniel’s willingness to look out for the state’s interest in terms of bringing home the bacon. But the new rhetoric is a significant escalation in tone and comes just as his campaign is openly asking Democrats to cross party lines to vote in the runoff.
McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch countered that this statement shows how “out of touch” Cochran is.
“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.”
The race has been one of the most bitter in recent history, but Cochran has fired at McDaniel through campaign staff, surrogates, or through his supporters like the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) or the Henry Barbour-run Mississippi Conservatives Super PAC.
The NRSC and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are holding a high-dollar fundraiser for Cochran’s campaign at NRSC headquarters on Tuesday evening. McConnell decided last week–after McDaniel forced Cochran into a runoff when he got more votes than Cochran in the primary–that he is going “all in” for Cochran over the next couple weeks.