Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) provided his latest head-scratching comment in public, this time joking he engaged in illicit activities with animals as a child.
“[We’d] get back [to the Pine Belt-Hattiesburg area of Mississippi] as often as we could because it was fun – it was an adventure to be out there in the country and see what goes on,” Cochran said of his childhood and how parts of his family lived in the central part of the state. “Picking up pecans, from that to all kind of indecent things with animals.”
The audience laughed at that point, video published by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger shows. Cochran’s facial expressions did not change, nor did his stance or demeanor. “I know some of you know what that is,” he continued. “The whole point of the story is not just coming here to visit cousins and get to know aunts and uncles better, you absorb the culture and you know what’s important to people here. I feel very comfortable here and have an identity with this area of the state that’s different than any other.”
Cochran made the speech at the Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, an area of the state known as the Pine Belt where his primary challenger, conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel, massively over performed in last Tuesday’s primary.
The Clarion-Ledger’s Geoff Pender described Cochran’s comment as “a joke, apparently about harassing wildlife or livestock.”
Cochran’s campaign spokesman Jordan Russell didn’t return a request for comment about specific details on what types of “indecent things” Cochran did “with animals” as a child, but Russell did brush it off to the Daily Caller. “I’ll check with my political correctness department and get back to you,” he told that publication.
This could hurt other Republicans, Tea Party News Network’s Scottie Hughes said in an email to Breitbart News. “It’s funny, politicians like Cochran would have been the first to scream foul at this type of comment,” Hughes said. “They would have said he was insensitive, an embarrassment and cruel to animals. Yet do we see those like the senators who raised funds for Cochran at the NRSC this week coming out and denouncing his comments and withdrawing their support? Of course not. Maybe birds of a feather do flock together.”
FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group backing McDaniel, has argued that the GOP establishment’s support of Cochran in the runoff could jeopardize the entire effort to win back the majority in the U.S. Senate.
The night after McDaniel got more votes than Cochran in last Tuesday’s primary, FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe called on the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to ask Cochran to concede the election to avoid a runoff.
“If the NRSC’s mission is for the Republican Party to win in November, they should encourage Thad Cochran to concede,” Kibbe said then. “Last night’s primary numbers proved that Mississippians want new leadership in the Senate. Why don’t we all focus our resources on defeating Democrats in November?”
In response to that statement, NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring told Breitbart News that while the GOP establishment group agrees that its “focus is on defeating Democrats” and its “goal is winning a Republican majority,” he argued that FreedomWorks’ “goals are at times at odds with that.”
“Differences of opinion are fine and part of the process,” Dayspring said in an email at the time. “Look, last night’s result was basically a statistical tie which results in a runoff. It is surprising that a ‘grassroots organization’ based in Washington DC seemingly wants to discount voters and the election process. Instead demanding any candidate concede, grassroots organizations typically encourage voters to participate in the process. It’s weird.”
The NRSC has – with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blessing – doubled down and gone “all in” for Cochran in the runoff. McConnell held a fundraiser for Cochran at the NRSC where several senior Republican senators attended earlier this week, raising more than $800,000 for Cochran.