The Daily Caller reported Monday that an early draft of a press release blamed "black Democrats" for propelling Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) to win the runoff election for U.S. Senate. Noel Fritsch, a spokesman for McDaniel, initially didn't respond to questions from the Daily Caller but then emailed a statement pointing to "dirty tactics" from the Cochran campaign.
Here's the statement:
As Trent Lott recently said, the dirty tactics Cochran camp used in Mississippi indicate it’s time for a shake-up of the Mississippi GOP. Ultimately the good people of Mississippi will judge Henry Barbour’s admitted involvement with and the Mississippi Republican Party’s silent complicity in the race-baiting radio ads that ran in June. Until such time as party leaders vocally reject those tactics, their calls for party unity will ring hollow.
The first draft of the press release according to the Daily Caller said that "Thad Cochran lost Republican votes in the runoff, but made up the difference with black democrat votes." That line was changed to "Thad Cochran lost Republican votes in the runoff and made up for the difference with Democrat votes."
McDaniel's staff has been up in arms throughout the Senate race over accusations about race, alleging that the Cochran campaign distributed flyers called McDaniel a racist. Since the runoff, which Cochran won, McDaniel and his supporters have suggested that Democrats and African American Democrats (which Cochran's campaign reached out to in the lead up to the runoff) illegally altered the results of the election, but they have generally been careful to say it was Democrats who stole the election.
In a racially polarized state like Mississippi, however, race can often be an indicator of party loyalty, and an analysis of the runoff results suggested that African American voters did, in fact, help Cochran win. The Mississippi Republican Party lawyer, however, has argued that crossover voting is not illegal, and McDaniel himself has yet to officially launch a legal challenge.
Supporters of McDaniel have also complained about Cochran seeking Democratic votes. A Tea Party Express email in June supporting McDaniel said that Cochran "deliberately, and possibly illegally, pandered to black liberal Democrats in order to steal the Republican primary election."
"Whose side are they on?" the email read. "It's certainly not the side of conservative Americans."