July 2nd, 2014
06:46 PM ET
5 months ago

Cochran conference call takes bizarre turn

(CNN) - It's one of the basics of campaign communication: the conference call with reporters - where normally flacks would issue updates about events and reiterate talking points from the trail.

But Thad Cochran's campaign really could have used a mute-all function on its phone session with reporters Wednesday afternoon, as the call careened into a borderline racist verbal melee.

Supporters of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel inundated Cochran campaign adviser Austin Barbour with questions, before one unidentified caller pivoted along racial lines.

"Quick question," began the caller. "Since black people harvested cotton, why is it OK to harvest their votes? Why is it OK to harvest the votes of black people?"

At first, Barbour paid no mind to the question.

When the caller again asked a similar question, the normally genteel campaign hand snapped.

"Sir, I don't know where you're calling from, but I'm happy to address any question, no matter the lunacy of it," Barbour said.

The Cochran campaign convened the call to push back against McDaniel's claim that the incumbent won last week's runoff election by illegally wooing Democratic and African-American voters. (Cochran himself was not on the call.)

The inquisitor didn't relent, however, asking again, "Why did you use black people? Why did you use black people to try to get Cochran elected when they're not even Republicans? You're treating them as if they're just idiots, that they'll just vote for Cochran just because they're black."

Having apparently heard enough, Barbour hung up.

From there, the call morphed into a chat-room of sorts, those remaining on the phone questioning repeatedly wondering if this was somehow President Obama's doing before playing soundboard clips of the commander-in-chief.

The sudden influx of non-media members onto the call could potentially be linked to a conservative blogger.

Charles Johnson, the political blogger who has accused the Cochran campaign and other state lawmakers of violating Mississippi election law, tweeted the details of the conference call - including the dial-in number and the passcode - to his nearly 6,000 followers shortly before the call began.

Thursday the McDaniel campaign put out a statement that did not address the racial comments.

"With the revelation of still more allegations of criminal misconduct surrounding Cochran's effort to drive ineligible voters to the polls, it's no wonder Cochran's staffers told Mississippians seeking electoral integrity to 'shut up.' Senator Cochran's campaign is in a state of wild disarray, and Sen. Cochran should return to Mississippi and take control of his campaign by addressing the allegations of criminal misconduct surrounding his campaign's strategy of pushing ineligible voters to the polls on June 24," said McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch in a statement

CNN Politics Executive Editor Mark Preston contributed to this report


Filed under: Thad Cochran
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    From DailyKOS: McDaniel "Complained about criticism of an ad showing a white woman holding down a black woman: "Speaking of race. Here's a heckuva story on race…There’s a white woman, and she’s holding down a black woman. The world’s gone nuts. Listen to this. Minority groups in California screaming that the image is racist. ‘San Francisco politician Tom LeLand says ‘It’s racially charged, unnecessary and clearly offensive to our community.’ Well, she wasn’t holding down a gay guy. She was holding down a —a…anyway.""

    Gee I just cannot think of why black voters came out to vote against poor, maligned, McDaniel.
    "She was holding down a ..." Say it Rick.

    July 3, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Some of the best proof out there are the campaign ads that Cochran ran that simply let McDaniel do all the talking.
    —-

    then you should have no problem at all in posting them as proof of your accusation of mcdaniel being a racist. otherwise your accusations are a baseless smear, something the left is well known for.

    Unlike you just, I have a job. While I do spend time here while working I don't have time to research for others. When I first heard about this Cochran/ McDaniel thing I was curious so I googled him. I don't have to post anything as proof. It's right on the internet. If you have a problem spelling google I'll help you. It's G O O G L E.

    July 3, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don't then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.

    July 3, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. jboh

    Just askin trolling for the Kochs again. You lost. Get over it!

    July 3, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    Rudy NYC
    just asking
    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....
    So basically McDaniels expected blacks in MS to sit back and allow a racist to represent them?

    where is your proof that mcdaniel is a racist?
    --––
    Some of the best proof out there are the campaign ads that Cochran ran that simply let McDaniel do all the talking.

    then you should have no problem at all in posting them as proof of your accusation of mcdaniel being a racist. otherwise your accusations are a baseless smear, something the left is well known for.
    =============================================================
    No, I can't do it. I cannot post links to the campaign ads. Sorry, I can't do it.

    July 3, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism
    "Yeah. I'm a Liberal. " Get real, you're a moderate like the rest of us.
    ----------

    Well, yes. I've always BEEN a political moderate. But, it's not me who changed. It is this new and less improved Republican party that changed my perspective by reclassifying me as a "liberal" unfit to pass their purity tests because I refuse to join hands and walk merrily along with their "do's and don't" platform of exclusion and nonsensical rhetorically based bigotry.

    So, yeah. Technically I've become a liberal. To the Republican mindset anyway.

    July 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Anonymous says:
    July 3, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm
    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don’t then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.

    You must have missed Uncle Rush and his "Operation Chaos" in 08. Google it. Rush told republicans to go out and vote for Hillary.

    July 3, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous

    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don't then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.
    ==========================================================================
    Republicans have done it before. Limbaugh urged Republicans to vote against Hillary in the 2008 Democratic primaries. How much of an impact that may, or may not, have had is hard to say. The bottom line is that Obama eventually won, and Limbaugh had encouraged folks to vote against Hillary. Thanks, Rush, for helping to elect our first black president.

    July 3, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Marcus (from...?)

    Rudy NYC
    just asking
    Rudy NYC
    just asking
    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....
    So basically McDaniels expected blacks in MS to sit back and allow a racist to represent them?

    where is your proof that mcdaniel is a racist?
    –––
    Some of the best proof out there are the campaign ads that Cochran ran that simply let McDaniel do all the talking.

    then you should have no problem at all in posting them as proof of your accusation of mcdaniel being a racist. otherwise your accusations are a baseless smear, something the left is well known for.
    =============================================================
    No, I can't do it. I cannot post links to the campaign ads. Sorry, I can't do it.

    Is it that hard for you, 'just asking', to use 'Google'?
    Seriously?

    July 3, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Malory Archer

    Anonymous
    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don't then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    OMG – you're JOKING, right? Wow – someone should REALLY take a civics class before posting! NOWHERE in America are there open primaries for one political party, yet closed primary elections for others. If a state has open primaries those guidelines are uniform, regardless of the party in question. If a state has closed primaries those guidelines are uniform, regardless of the party in question. That being said, did your head EXPLODE when the fat, drug addicted rightwing radio bloviator suggested that his listeners do JUST THAT and vote for Hillary over Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primaries? In fact, he went even further and suggested his listeners in states with closed primaries switch their affiliation to Dem FOR the primary, then switch back to rethug and vote for the red candidate in the General election.

    July 3, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. rick3807

    The Tea Party lost, so there HAS to be fraud and illegality involved on the other side, because the TP KNOWS that EVERYONE agrees with them. If there is a charge, make it. Don't throw around empty threats and "stuff I heard" on talk radio and FAUX news. If the TP side won using those tactics there response would be, it was legal.

    July 3, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Marcus posted:

    No, I can't do it. I cannot post links to the campaign ads. Sorry, I can't do it.

    Is it that hard for you, 'just asking', to use 'Google'?
    Seriously?
    ------------------------
    Yeah, I'm afraid so. It seems conservatives are too accustomed to being spoon fed what to think. Besides, you are not allowed to post links here, anyway. I'm pretty "just askin" already knows that. To ask, anyhow, is just ignorance.

    July 3, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    Rudy NYC

    Anonymous

    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don't then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.
    ==========================================================================
    Republicans have done it before. Limbaugh urged Republicans to vote against Hillary in the 2008 Democratic primaries. How much of an impact that may, or may not, have had is hard to say. The bottom line is that Obama eventually won, and Limbaugh had encouraged folks to vote against Hillary. Thanks, Rush, for helping to elect our first black president

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Oh... and don't forget the little stunt pulled (in South Carolina or Georgia, I believe) where the republicants got the feeble minded guy (Green was his name, I think) with the similar name to the real candidate to enter the primary to pull votes from the actual candidate; or the republicant in TX who ran is whole campaign insinuating he was a black man. They are far from innocent in their dirty tactics (bush v. Gore, where they stole the election using the dreaded trial lawyers, who they claim to hate and the right wing scotus).
    That being said... I don't believe this was illegal, dirty, or unfair. mcdaniel was the one being underhanded and cochran saw himself losing, changed his strategy and asked the black community to vote for him, they looked into mcdaniel's past which is rife with rascism despite the deniers on here, and they voted for the lesser of two evils.
    Nothing wrong with that and in fact the primary system was designed for this very thing.
    The only thing this article and the righty posts about it shows, is that if one of their own starts throwing a wall eyed crybaby fit... the lame followers of the right will immediately join in the wall eyed crybaby fit without even knowing what they are throwing a wall eyed crybaby fit about. Just like when they all jumped off the cliff for that racist criminal clive bundy.
    Nothing new to see here folks....typical wall eyed crybaby fits by the wall eyed crybaby fit throwers.

    July 3, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Lisa P

    Anonymous

    I wonder how many Democrat primaries are open to Republicans to vote in? I think we need to also engage in these very same tactics to screw with Democrat primaries. If we don't then we are not fighting on a level playing field. We need to give the Democrats the very same treatment they give others. What goes around, comes around.
    July 3, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm
    ------------------------------

    Sorry, you're already far far behind Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which not only regularly urges Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries (Republicans were supposed to vote for Hilary Clinton in 2008, for example) but even ran fake Democratic candidates to provoke primaries and delay the State Senate recall elections in 2011-2012 and generally cause chaos and confusion. That and a 43:1 spending ratio is why Scott Walker is still Governor and able to continue to wreck our state, in case you are wondering what it takes to thwart good government and the will of the people.

    July 3, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda/Minnesota says:
    July 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm
    Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism
    “Yeah. I’m a Liberal. ” Get real, you’re a moderate like the rest of us.
    —————————-

    Well, yes. I’ve always BEEN a political moderate. But, it’s not me who changed. It is this new and less improved Republican party that changed my perspective by reclassifying me as a “liberal” unfit to pass their purity tests because I refuse to join hands and walk merrily along with their “do’s and don’t” platform of exclusion and nonsensical rhetorically based bigotry.

    So, yeah. Technically I’ve become a liberal. To the Republican mindset anyway.

    We liberals accept you as you are Lynda!!! And we're happy to have you!😊😊😊😊

    July 3, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism

    "Imagine that CNN demonizing the GOP....I'm shocked (yawn)"
    Gosh, honey, they are just reporting the GOP's demonic activities. The GOP seems to be demonizing itself. Will their new symbol be a Goat instead of the elephant?

    July 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    Marcus (from...?)

    Is it that hard for you, 'just asking', to use 'Google'?
    Seriously?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    (Sarcasm – on)

    You're joking, right? Google is nothing but a "librul" noise machine, and while 'just asking' would surely find those links there, they all lead to bogus sites that were created by "libruls" to smear the reds and make them look bad!

    (Sarcasm – off)

    July 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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