Miss. Senate Candidate Chris McDaniel Distances Himself from Comments on Reparations and 'Mamacita'
3:16 PM, Apr 11, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The notion that McDaniel could be used to tarnish other Republican candidates is fair enough, but there's an obvious rejoinder to the concern that McDaniel would lose the general election, and that is: C'mon, this is Mississippi we're talking about. The state is much more Republican than Indiana. If former Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove couldn't win during the Obama wave of 2008, could any Democrat win in 2014? McDaniel's radio show comments that have surfaced to date--cringe-inducing but not utterly jaw-dropping--are not bad enough to bring him down.
"You certainly have to look at the Tea Party’s record and at least raise an eyebrow," elections analyst Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics told me in an email. "Insurgents have some often overlooked, important victories, but they have tended to come when highly experienced candidates like Marco Rubio (state house speaker) and Pat Toomey (former Rep) have run. McDaniel isn’t Christine O’Donnell, but the worry is he might be Sharron Angle. With THAT said, Mississippi isn’t Nevada, it’s solidly red now, and McDaniel would have to commit a pretty serious gaffe to lose, especially in a midtem electorate."
There's always the possibility that a truly Akin-esque statement could slip out of his mouth (Romney only fared 1 point better in Mississippi than Missouri in 2012), but during his phone conversation with THE WEEKLY STANDARD, McDaniel tried to allay fears that he's a loose cannon by not saying much of anything at all.
Asked if he thought there were grounds to impeach President Obama, McDaniel replied: "Oh goodness. That's a great question. The Constitution has a very high standard for impeachment, doesn't it? It's not something that should be discussed unless it's discussed very very seriously."
"That's not something I'd like to discuss," McDaniel said, until he examined it "more seriously."
McDaniel has also been criticized for speaking to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, but, again, let's remember that McDaniel is running in Mississippi. "We're talking about an organization that our governor is a member of, that in the past that our senators have been members of, that many members of our house and senate are members of," McDaniel said. "It's not a racist organization. It's a historical organization filled with reenactors and collectors. That's all it is." Thad Cochran has been known to wax nostalgic about Confederate veterans and has a portrait of Jefferson Davis hanging in his office.
McDaniel's case against Cochran rests largely on Cochran's love of earmarks (special spending projects that Republicans banned in 2011). Some of Cochran's biggest earmarks involved defense spending, but McDaniel doesn't think those projects count as earmarks. "No, not at all," McDaniel told me when asked if he considers military projects that Cochran brought to Mississippi to be earmarks. "We should have a strong military presence and that includes naturally the building of ships."
Cochran supporters have called McDaniel a hypocrite on earmarks and point to his support for giving $2 million to the Grammy Awards to build a museum in Mississippi. "It is absolutely within the prerogative of the state to build a museum for educational purposes," McDaniel said in defense of the project. "That museum was part of a larger bonding package that the state passed that included important infrastructure repair." And unlike the federal government, McDaniel said, "Mississippi is not $17.3 trillion dollars in debt" and "does not print its money."
Where McDaniel stands on foreign policy, a growing area of disagreement among conservatives, isn't all that clear. He wouldn't say whether he thought it was a mistake to depose Saddam Hussein: "Best way to look at it is this: to move forward and not speculate what I would have done at the time."
"My foreign policy would be much more prudent than the course we've taken over the last 30 or 40 years," he said. "To be a hyper-interventionist state at this stage in our history seems not to be a wise path."
Asked what the United States should do if it came down to a military strike on Iran or the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon, McDaniel replied: "I think Israel can handle that very effectively, and I would trust her to make the right decision in that regard."
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