Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) denounced the “shameful” suggestion by supporters of Senator Thad Cochran that state senator Chris McDaniel and the tea party wanted to “intimidate” black voters from going to the polls.
“That is exactly the kind of thing that will take our party down,” Lee said Wednesday evening during an event hosted by America’s Future Foundation (where I edit Doublethink). Fliers containing the allegation hit in black neighborhoods where Cochran succeeded in winning the support of black Democrats, which saved him from a run-off defeat.
“I don’t know who ran that flier, but I think we’ve got to be very careful, especially when we’re talking about Republican versus Republican, we’ve got to be very careful when throwing around charges like that,” Lee said. “And it’s shameful when that card is used in this way.”
Lee didn’t formally endorse McDaniel, but he advised the tea-party challenger in the homestretch of the primary.
Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) said he couldn’t comment on the veracity of the charges.
“I didn’t see it,” he told National Review Online. “I did hear stories of people, tea partiers, going through the black neighborhoods telling them they couldn’t vote, I did hear that allegation, but I don’t know if any of these are right or wrong.”
McCain, who was himself the victim of a racist smear during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, said that he wasn’t surprised that the accusations were thrown about.
“I don’t have any real comment on it,” McCain said. “In every campaign, particularly very close and bitter ones, I hear charges back and forth so, frankly, my involvement was to try and get out the vote for Thad Cochran. I don’t have a lot of expertise on what went on, to be honest with you.”