Senate candidate: Mississippi begs for ‘government scraps’
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Responding to a question about black voters, a white U.S. Senate candidate in Mississippi said Friday that the state has been “begging for federal government scraps” for 100 years and is still “dead last.”
Republican Chris McDaniel made the comment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in a segment from Oxford, Mississippi.
He was responding to professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Princeton University.
Glaude, who grew up in Moss Point, Mississippi, said McDaniel has supported the Confederate emblem on the state flag, has publicly praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and has said there’s a connection between gun violence and hip-hop music. Glaude said 38 percent of Mississippi residents are black and asked how McDaniel would convince them he’s not a “danger.”
McDaniel said the hip-hop study he cites came from the University of California, Berkeley, and most Mississippi residents who voted in a 2001 election chose to keep the state flag.
Glaude asked again what McDaniel would say to black residents, and McDaniel responded: “After 100 years of begging for federal government scraps, where are you today?”
Some members of the mostly white audience booed and McDaniel said: “I’m talking about the state of Mississippi.”
McDaniel told The Associated Press in a phone interview later Friday: “Me, personally, and I think Mississippians as well, I think we’re tired of corporate welfare, we’re tired of government handouts to people.”
He said the U.S. economy is too dependent on federal spending.
“It crowds out private investment and discourages economic growth,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel and two Democrats — former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and former military intelligence officer Tobey Bernard Bartee — are challenging Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in a Nov. 6 special election. No parties will be listed on the ballot. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two will advance to a Nov. 27 runoff.
The winner will serve the final two years of a six-year term started by longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to temporarily serve when Cochran retired in April.
Espy, who is African-American, condemned McDaniel’s remarks, saying black voters are not “begging” for scraps.
“We’re where we are today as a state, ranked dead last in health care and 46th in education, because of language like that,” Espy said in a statement that included his own campaign fundraising appeal. “My opponent’s rhetoric isn’t trying to solve problems. It has only one purpose: to divide us.”
Bryant said on Twitter Friday: “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.”
Cochran was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and brought billions of federal dollars to Mississippi for universities, military bases, highways and other projects. McDaniel unsuccessfully challenged Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary, criticizing the senator as a big spender.
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .