Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel – a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith – drew boos during a live appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. After Moss Point native Eddie S. Glaude Jr – a black professor who chairs the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University – asked McDaniel to allay fears among the 38 percent of Mississippians who are black that he would pose a danger to them if elected, McDaniel suggested black voters have been “begging for government scraps” for over 100 years.
After the jeering died down, McDaniel attempted to correct himself (“I mean the state of Mississippi,” he said), but he drew rebukes not only from opponents on the left, but also from state Republican leaders.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant – who, having repeatedly declared April to be “Confederate History Month,” has his own complicated relationship with race in the state – condemned McDaniel via Tweet.
I condemn and reject in the strongest possible terms Chris McDaniel’s characterization of African-Americans as beggars. This does not reflect the beliefs of the Mississippi Republican Party or the average Mississippian. https://t.co/z7zmgEJEHz
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) September 14, 2018
McDaniel was also condemned by Lucien Smith, the Chairman of the Mississippi GOP:
The Republican Party believes in greater opportunity for all Americans. These comments are inconsistent with our values and have no place in our party or our national discourse. https://t.co/yFbBjLDgNc
— Lucien Smith (@LucienSmith) September 14, 2018
McDaniel responded, accusing Bryant and other GOP leaders of “running a smear campaign” and “playing the race card”:
So now the establishment is playing the race card. Sad. Don’t take his word for it. It’s just a political smear campaign. Watch the entire interview and judge for yourself! The truth is only a click away. https://t.co/FGLlZRGPrK
— Sen. Chris McDaniel (@senatormcdaniel) September 14, 2018
Chris McDaniel is running against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Mike Espy, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton. The three will go head-to-head in a special election on November 6, 2018.