June 25th, 2014
07:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Cochran’s strategy: Good or bad for the GOP?

(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?”

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“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.

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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.

Filed under: 2014 • Mississippi • Republican Party • Thad Cochran
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Oh, sometimes they are irate. Sometimes they are steamed. Sometimes they are incensed. Sometimes they can not contain their behavior, because they are irritated. Are there any right wingers that don't show signs of incompetency or anger when interviewed by the press? They're so touchy. Maybe they need to find peace from within, instead of trying to ruin the world because they are unhappy.

    June 25, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  2. Bigwilliestyles

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...deep breath...ahahahahahahahahaha! This one is precious! Oh my goodness!! Thank you for a hilarious event! Hey Rush, Sarah, Rience-taste that!

    June 25, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    "Cochran’s strategy: Good or bad for the GOP?"

    It's a terrible strategy! He's alienated and offended McDaniel's supporters who think Cochran cheated, and the Democrats won't viote for him in November. I expect he's just lost the seat for the GOP.

    June 25, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "In courting Democrats, Barbour says that Cochran’s campaign team may have even converted some Democrats."

    God but these GOPers are fools. No, Haley Barbour. It's quite obvious that when push comes to shove, the GOP DOES NOT WANT Democrats voting Republican. Just ask Rush Limbaugh. McDaniel was pushed out of the running because DEMOCRATS couldn't abide his racism. It's a lesson that all TeaPers could learn because their day is coming to be pushed back under the rocks they crawled out of in 2010. If REPUBLICANS can't see fit to get rid of TeaPers, DEMOCRATS will (taking the GOP down along with the TeaPers).

    June 25, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. cal

    Tea party is done like dinner.

    June 25, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. carol baltzell

    If elected Cochran must represent all people in his district not just republicans.

    June 25, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. plain & simple

    We've had one civil war in this country. No need to pine for another as these tea party extremists appear to want. If you get more votes than the other guy, you win! When you complain about someone turning out the vote, sounds like sour grapes. Grow up tea party and work for a United States of America!!!

    June 25, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The two head bigots of the GOP, Rush and Palin, are upset! Oh I love it. You asked for it you got it G O P!!!☺️☺️😄😄👏

    June 25, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Robert

    “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?”

    Yea, Rush... I bet you wonder about a lot of things.

    June 25, 2014 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Cry baby Chris will soon accept he lost it just takes the TP a little while to catch on

    June 25, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Smitty

    Cochran needs to go end of story.

    June 25, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    52 minutes ago
    Cochran’s strategy: Good or bad for the GOP?
    I'd say since he won it was good for the GOP and bad for CRYBABY CHRIS

    June 25, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Bad for the GOP, and I am roaring mad about it!

    June 25, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. ja

    All political parties need climb off the high horses and cross lines to better America, stop the self righteous, no compromise mess, that's the only means to growth and sustainability

    June 25, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    So when are the tea bags going to man-up and split from the gop? I've got popcorn in the microwave – c'mon, now, DO IT!

    June 26, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Seems like blacks voting for Republicans is what the Republican party would want but I guess that seems to hurt the Us versus minorities image they want to preserve for the party's fringe base!

    June 26, 2014 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  17. hkirwin

    Only shows what most politicians will do or say for a vote. Integrity is dead in America.

    June 26, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  18. Marie MD

    Anybody but a teaklan. Cochran seems to be a little lost, sort of like the demi god reagan anyway.

    June 26, 2014 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  19. MaryM

    Isn't that what the GOP wanted? reaching across the Isle?

    June 26, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  20. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Does it really make a difference? It's still a GOP seat. They're still one party. It's them against the dems.

    June 26, 2014 07:53 am at 7:53 am |