The Mississippi Republican gubernatorial candidate who blocked a female reporter from doing a ride-along with his campaign — because he was concerned it’d look like he was having an affair — dug his heels in during an interview with CNN Thursday morning.
“My rules, my truck,” Mississippi state Rep. Robert Foster (R) said during the interview, which included the female journalist, Mississippi Today’s Larrison Campbell, who was told by Foster’s campaign that she couldn’t do a ride-along style story with the candidate unless she brought a male colleague with her.
According to Campbell, the ride-along request was meant to be part of a series of stories that Mississippi Today is publishing to give voters an inside look at each of the gubernatorial candidates’ campaigns. Foster argued that the request was “different” than the typical interview and he made the male colleague request as a “precaution” to avoid the “perception” of an affair.
“I didn’t want to end up in a situation where me and Ms. Campbell were alone for an extended period of time throughout that 15 to 16 hour day,” he said. “So out of precaution I wanted to have her bring someone with her, a male colleague. And the other thing that I think is important to point out is this is my truck, and in my truck we go by my rules. And that’s my rule.”
Foster said that he and his wife have a similar rule to what Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence follow. Part of their wedding vows was a promise to never be alone in the same room as someone of the opposite gender. Foster happily admitted that he would’ve granted access to a male reporter and even raised the fact that we live in the #metoo era as fodder for his defense.
“Because of the #metoo movement now, men are under attack all of the time,” he said. “I’m not going to allow myself to be put in a situation with any female, where they could make an accusation against me and there’s not a witness there to refute that accusation.”
Campbell said that Foster’s entire argument was sexist, regardless of his vows to his wife and suggested that if it’s his rules in his truck, he should’ve provided the additional person that he wanted there. She also asked how he would operate the governor’s office if he couldn’t have one-on-one meetings with women. He said he would leave the door open and make sure someone was in the room next to his office.
“We can’t talk about this without talking about perception being everything and if you’re saying that the look of impropriety is out there, it’s because you’re saying that women don’t belong in these spaces,” Campbell said. “That women are sexual objects. … We’ve got to call this what it is. When a women isn’t give access to the same things a man would be given access to, it’s sexism.”
CNN’s John Berman then closed out the interview asking Foster again whether he’d give a man the access that Campbell requested.
“I would and I stand my ground,” Foster said.
Watch part of the exchange below:
Mississippi GOPer, who wouldn't let female reporter do a ride-along interview bc he thought it'd look like he was having an affair, spars with the reporter on CNN: "I'm a married man."
— Nicole Lafond (@Nicole_Lafond) July 11, 2019