(CNN) – A number of high-profile conservative activists are steamed over Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s decision to court traditionally Democratic voters – including African-Americans – in his primary runoff victory over tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel.
“I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi the past couple days,” Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday on his nationally syndicated radio show. “Uncle Toms for Thad?”
“If Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung ho about getting Republicans in there?” Sarah Palin asked Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday.
Matt Kibbe, president of the pro-tea party grassroots organization FreedomWorks, also chimed in, saying, “If the only way the K Street wing of the GOP establishment can win is by courting Democrats to vote in GOP primaries, then we’ve already won.”
But Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 White House contender, had a different take.
“I'm for more people voting, not less people voting," Paul told reporters Wednesday, according to the Washington Post.
Over 61,000 more people voted in Tuesday’s primary runoff than the June 3rd Senate primary.
In a post-runoff statement, McDaniel said, “the conservative movement is alive in Mississippi," despite Cochran’s successful strategy to court Democrats and other groups to vote for him in the runoff.
"If our party and our conservative movement are to co-exist, it is paramount that we ensure the sanctity of the election process is upheld and we will do that,” McDaniel said. “In the case of yesterday's election, we must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”
McDaniel said his team is also looking into “irregularities” to determine whether to challenge the legality of Cochran’s victory strategy in court.
In an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, pro-Cochran super PAC leader Henry Barbour, nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, said McDaniel is wrong to challenge Cochran’s victory and that his accusation that Cochran abandoned his conservative principles is “hogwash.”
“In America, we have a right to vote,” Barbour said. “And in Mississippi, we don’t register by party. So whites and blacks get to vote in the Republican primary if they decide, and I think the Constitution gives them that right. So, I'm afraid he's wrong, I mean, people have a right to vote and I'm damned proud to have asked them for their support.”
In courting Democrats, Barbour says that Cochran’s campaign team may have even converted some Democrats.
“I'll tell you, some of the Democrats that we were recruiting to vote for Sen. Cochran - some of them have called me talking about switching,” Barbour said. “This is how you grow.”
CNN’s Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.