Facing a desperate runoff election against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel on Tuesday, Sen. Thad Cochran has been accused of pursuing an unorthodox strategy for a Mississippi Republican: robocalling black voters.
"The time has come to make a stand and say 'No!' to the Tea Party, 'No!' to their obstruction, 'No!' to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president," the calls exhort would-be voters.
Cochran's campaign has reportedly denied being associated with the calls, saying McDaniel's supporters are to blame.
“It’s an obvious, transparent stunt by McDaniel and his allies,” Jordan Russell, a spokesman for Cochran, told the Daily Caller on Sunday.
The McDaniel campaign struck back, with campaign representative Noel Fritsch telling the Daily Caller, “It is clear that Mississippi Republicans have rejected Thad Cochran’s liberal voting record and it’s sad to see Thad Cochran resort to courting Democrats simply to hold onto power."
Cochran's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.
Forced into a runoff, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., started the first day of a three-week campaign Wednesday, June 4, 2014 with a brief afternoon stop at a fast-food restaurant in Flowood, Miss., where he also spoke to reporters. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Whether or not the robocalls are genuinely coming from Cochran's camp, there has a broad effort underway to paint Cochran as a moderate and to encourage blacks to vote in the GOP runoff against McDaniel, whose tweets and quotes have been used by his critics to accuse him of racism.
Mississippi blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, with only 2 percent participating in the 2012 Republican primary, but an outreach effort by the Cochran campaign has sought to change that. Mississippi allows anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in its GOP primary, as long as they didn't previously vote in that year's Democratic primary.
“We’ve got efforts reaching out to black voters in Mississippi who want to vote for Thad because they like what Thad is for,” Cochran campaign adviser Austin Barbour told the New York Times. “Thad Cochran is someone who, even with his conservative message, represents all of Mississippi. He’s not some hostile screamer.”
Cochran is part of a slate of so-called Republican establishment members facing Tea Party-backed primary challengers, who netted a shocking win against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this month.
McDaniel narrowly defeated Cochran in the original primary, and recent polling shows him widening his lead over Cochran to 8 points.
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