Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel laid out the national case for grassroots conservatism in a speech that fired up the crowd at the FreedomWorks-sponsored FreePAC Kentucky event on Saturday.
“We’re fighting, and so it begins again,” McDaniel opened his ten-minute speech. “One last great stand for liberty. One last great stand for our Constitution. We dare not disappoint. There’s too much at stake. Our country’s too great to lose and I will not tell my children one day about a once-great Republic that we were unable to save. We will not witness the managed decline of this Republic. We will witness its revival. We will witness its resurrection.”
McDaniel’s speech took place before about 2,000 Tea Party activists in Louisville, Kentucky, a couple states over from Mississippi where he is challenging U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the June 3 GOP primary. The contest has become a national battleground between the establishment and the conservative grassroots. Two months out, polling data shows them in a dead heat.
Cochran is wrapping up his sixth term in the United States Senate, and has served in Congress for 42 years. He is closely allied with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, now a lobbyist and outspoken representative of the Republican establishment.
Cochran has already made major unforced errors in the campaign, including twice stating he doesn’t really know what Tea Party movement–a five year old political grassroots surge that swept Republicans into control of the House in 2010–is. And his ordinary pitch to voters that he has brought home the bacon – Cochran has more federal buildings in Mississippi named after himself than any current member of Congress – is out of style.
McDaniel is a two-term state senator in Mississippi mounting a grassroots-focused challenge to Cochran. He served a two-year clerkship for now-retired federal judge Charles Pickering, Sr., before launching a talk radio career in the mid-2000s which catapulted him to national and statewide conservative prominence before he ran for state senate. McDaniel has always been closely aligned with the Tea Party movement, having spoke at the tax day rally in Laurel, Mississippi, on April 15, 2009.
McDaniel’s decision to attend and speak at Saturday’s FreedomWorks event in Kentucky drew barbs from Cochran. “When you consider the fact that Chris McDaniel’s campaign is funded almost entirely by out-of-state groups, this whole trip to Kentucky makes a lot of sense for him,” Jordan Russell, Cochran’s spokesman, said last week.
But McDaniel noted in his speech that his race is part of a larger movement to stop the establishment, and by extension the Democrats. “They say the race I’m in right now is a test of the ‘Old Guard,'” McDaniel said. “I’m not sure what that means. I know my opponent’s been there 42 years, has been there as long as I’ve been alive–Richard Nixon was president when he arrived. But I prefer to look at it from another angle: You see, the Republican Party that I joined is a party of freedom and a party of liberty and a party of limited government and a party of Constitutionalism. We stand to regain that party and restore its consciousness again and not a moment too soon.”
McDaniel’s comments about the Constitution and how distant the permanent political class in Washington is from the American people drew loud rounds of applause. “We stand here today in defense of that early and original American revolution,” McDaniel said. “What they brought us, what they brought you, was something unprecedented in all of American history–or for that matter, all of world history. They simply did not change the leading cast of characters, replacing one king with another for example, or replacing a king with an oligarchy. They changed your role in your government: they work for you, not the other way around. And yet in Washington, D.C., they have created a political aristocracy. They no longer listen. They have forgotten who they work for. We go to remind them again, and we’re going to remind them again, that’s our obligation. That’s our duty of this generation and we will win this fight, I promise you.”
McDaniel added toward the end of his speech that the Tea Party movement is a nationwide movement that history will document as having fought back against the left one state at a time.
“History is going to record this one great battle of ideas,” McDaniel said. “This is the fight of my generation. This is the fight of your generation, and we shall go on to the end. We’ll fight them in academia. We’ll fight them in the universities. We’ll fight them in the halls of Congress. We’ll fight them in the state Capitols. We’ll fight them in the hills if we have to, but we are not going to surrender our country. It will record that Mississippi stood tall. It will record that Kentucky stood tall. It will record that Texas and Utah stood tall. We’re going to change this country one senator at time, one House member at a time, but only if you engage the system.”
McDaniel’s speech was filled with his different vision for the country than the path it is currently on–similar to a speech Cruz, Lee or Paul would give.
“You know they stood there, doing their best to defund Obamacare,” McDaniel said about Cruz and Lee. “That was a fight they should have fought. That was a fight they should have won, but the same old guys told us that was not a ‘winnable solution.’ It’s the same thing everywhere we go, isn’t it? ‘Republicans have to learn to compromise. We have to learn to reach across the aisle.’ I don’t remember the Democrats reaching across the aisle when they basically took Obamacare and rammed it down our throats. So let me promise you this: Next time Sen. Cruz and Sen. Lee and others stand on that floor to fight to balance your budget, next time they stand on that floor to fight to defund Obamacare, a son of Mississippi will stand with them.”
McDaniel said the nation’s dire fiscal situation means its time to hold fast to principle.
“I’ve got 17.3 trillion reasons to never compromise on the debt again,” he said. “Your Constitution and it core, that includes every Amendment not just a couple, are worthy of your sacrifice and never worthy of surrender: We will not surrender that document to those progressives. And we are not going to stand with an eye to trying to place a bandaid on Obamacare. Hey, we’re not going to fix it. We’re going to kill it.”
WATCH MCDANIEL’S SPEECH TO FREEPAC KENTUCKY: