By Bill Crawford
If you sense something fishy about Senator Thad Cochran’s upstart opponent, it may be the flip-flopping. Republican senate candidate Chris McDaniel’s issue fickleness was exposed in a recent article by Politico.com reporter Alexander Burns.
McDaniel promotes himself as an anti-government, anti-spending purist in the mold of Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, both of whom, for example, took strong ideological positions against the federal farm bill and the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
“I’m not going to do anything for you,” McDaniel preached to a group of Ole Miss students, according to Burns. “I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.”
But a little later, Burns reported, McDaniel “hedged that statement.”
When asked about whether he supported the federal farm bill or efforts to subsidize federal flood insurance rates, “McDaniel said he was not prepared to take a position on either.” On the flood insurance issue he added, “The people of the Coast have come to depend upon that, to a certain extent.”
McDaniel also waffled, Burns reported, on whether he would have championed the Hurricane Katrina relief bill that Cochran championed and pushed to passage. “I would have to see the details of it. I really would,” McDaniel said, according to Burns. “That’s not an easy vote to cast.” Pressed by Burns, McDaniel said, “I probably would have supported it.” The next day McDaniel’s spokesman “to clarify” told Burns “Chris would’ve been a yes vote on the disaster bill.”
In the days following the Burns article, newspaper editorials and numerous Republican leaders blasted McDaniel for his weak statement of support for Katrina relief. McDaniel responded by saying his opponents were slandering him. Then, he posted on Facebook a message of sudden strong support for hurricane relief spending:
“Just to be perfectly clear, I support disaster relief efforts for massive tragedies like Katrina.”
Alas, to please the big out-of-state Super Pacs bankrolling his campaign, McDaniel needs to stay on the anti-government, anti-spending message with Cruz and Lee.
“McDaniel spoke admiringly of Cruz and Lee,” Burns wrote in his article, “explaining that he had spoken with both men and met several times with Lee. Asked what kind of advice he got from the upstart duo, McDaniel said it was much ‘the same type of advice I gave those students tonight. Just that the country is worth defending, the country is worth saving and that it takes courage to do that. That’s the message of our movement.”
Hmm, courage. Courage means sticking with the message in the face of opposition, something McDaniel seems to have trouble doing.
One final fishy note in the Politico.com article, Burns wrote, “Lee’s spokesman said the senator’s conversations with McDaniel were ‘news to me.’
» Bill Crawford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.