JACKSON — A Republican U.S. Senate challenger in Mississippi said Friday that the incumbent’s camp is “showing signs of desperation” by criticizing things he said while hosting a conservative talk radio show several years ago.
Tea party-backed Chris McDaniel is challenging six-term incumbent Thad Cochran, a former Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, in the June 3 primary.
McDaniel, an attorney, said he hosted “The Right Side” from about 2003 or 2004 until late 2006 or early 2007. He said he couldn’t remember the exact dates, but that the show started on a Hattiesburg station and later became syndicated.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday posted a link to a nearly 10-minute, undated audio clip from the radio show. In it, McDaniel said he’d stop paying taxes if the government ordered reparations for slavery. He discussed a slang word for “hot mama” in Spanish, and said a politician in San Francisco was overreacting to video-game ads that depicted a white woman wrestling and holding down a black woman.
“Well, she wasn’t holding down a gay guy,” McDaniel said on the radio show, which he hosted before running for, and winning, a seat in the state Legislature in 2007.
After mentioning slavery reparations, McDaniel jokingly suggested on-air that he and his radio producer move to Mexico.
“I know a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico,” McDaniel said. “And I think we ought to get together, go down there, build us a studio for like 26 pesos and put on a radio show right there in Mexico, live the rest of our lives right there. Why not?”
McDaniel talked on-air about having to learn Spanish, including the word “mamacita” to ask if somebody has a sister.
“I’m an English-speaking Anglo,” McDaniel said. “I have no idea what it means, actually. But I’ve said it a few times, just for, you know, fun. And I think it basically means, ‘Hey, hot mama.’ Or, you know, ‘You’re a fine-looking young thing.'”
McDaniel was campaigning Friday in north Mississippi. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, he said doesn’t remember the specific program from the audio clip.
“My goodness,” McDaniel said. “Thousands of hours of radio clips and this is what we’re bringing up? Are you serious?”
Cochran’s campaign spokesman, Jordan Russell, told AP in a separate interview Friday that McDaniel’s remarks were “embarrassing.” Russell said the Cochran campaign did not give the information about McDaniel’s radio show to the newspaper.
“We don’t know a lot about Chris McDaniel, and every time we find out something new about him, it turns out to be troubling,” Russell said.
An anonymously written political blog, Dark Horse Mississippi, posted audio clips from McDaniel’s former radio show earlier this year.
McDaniel said it is fair for people to listen to what he said on the radio and read what he has written about government, including his belief that Cochran helped increase the federal debt.
“Senator Cochran and I both need to be focusing on the issues that affect everyday Mississippians,” McDaniel said.
Russell said behavior matters and Cochran “never embarrassed Mississippi.”