Amid recent allegations of tea partiers caught rubbing elbows with white supremacists and cock fighters, mainstream Republicans are having a hard time containing their exuberance over the struggling tea party challenger campaigns.
After TPM reported on Thursday that state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS) backed out of headlining a gun rights rally thanks to attention on a vendor with questionable views on racial segregation, CNN Crossfire co-host S.E. Cupp tweeted McDaniel was an “ass” for agreeing to attend in the first place.
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) April 3, 2014
“When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas,” Republican strategist John Feehery told TPM in an email. “This is the problem with the tea party and their candidates. They lack judgement and that lack of judgement makes them poor general election candidates.”
The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), which has done some of the most heated battling with the outside groups that support McDaniel, quickly took to twitter to attack McDaniel over the episode.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) April 3, 2014
Mississippi Republican Party chair Joe Nosef urged McDaniel to clarify whether he supports groups that promote the confederacy and segregation.
“Running for the United States Senate is a very important thing and as a party we need to always be careful and focused and serious about what our views are and what our interests are,” Nosef said according to MSNBC on Thursday.
Brian Walsh, a former NRSC communications director and vocal critic of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said that McDaniel’s decision to pull out of the event when he did didn’t “smell right.”
“It just doesn’t necessarily smell right that he disavowed it after it became public,” Walsh told TPM. “These are the sorts of issues that Democrats would have a field day in the general election. And it’s the type of thing that cost us winnable seats in the last couple of cycles.”
McDaniel wasn’t the only tea party candidate who goofed recently. Over the weekend Matt Bevin, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) tea party primary challenger, ended up speaking at a rally for supporters of legal cockfighting. Bevin said he didn’t know the rally was about cockfighting but both McConnell campaign staffers and other prominent Republicans are skeptical.
“I don’t know how you accidentally stumble into a cockfighting rally,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Thursday morning.
Josh Holmes, a senior NRSC staffer and former top aide to McConnell, also tweeted about Bevin’s appearance at the rally.
— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) April 3, 2014