On the June 25 edition of Hardball, fill-in host Steve Kornacki and his guests discussed the implications of Thad Cochran’s surprising upset of Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi GOP Senate runoff. The panel mocked the Tea Party’s outrage at Thad Cochran over his courting of Democratic voters in the primary.
Kornacki laughed off Chris McDaniel’s assertion that the outcome was unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan, explaining: “That is the same Ronald Reagan who we named the Reagan Democrats after because he cultivated all that Democratic support when he ran for President.” David Corn agreed, criticizing the Tea Party because the “Republican Party has been trying to get black people to vote for them for a long time, and finally when it happens Tea Partiers get upset.” [MP3 audio; video below]
Corn continued his critique of the Tea Party, saying that the group “always talks about citizens taking back the government and voting their principles. Well here are a bunch of people in Mississippi who saw this guy heading towards the halls in Washington and they realized they could stop them and they did.”
Eugene Robinson took great pleasure in seeing black Democrats play a huge role in Cochran’s victory over McDaniel. In fact, the Washington Post columnist believed that African-American voters in Mississippi “did something that I just have to find kind of delicious. They availed themselves of the democratic process. They voted in counties and communities where you used to see hardly any votes in the Republican primary.”
Robinson added that Chris McDaniel and “his Tea Party patrons, the Ted Cruz's and Sarah Palin's of the world, can pile back into the clown car and, I guess, drive off to the next state.”
All of the panelists seemed to almost encourage McDaniel to start a write-in campaign in order to undermine the Republicans and bolster Democratic candidate Travis Childers’s chances in the general election. Referring to a possible write-in candidacy for McDaniel and the chaos that would cause within the Republican Party, Corn contended, “the way McDaniel was talking last night, it looks like he wants to have this fight. The civil war in the Republican Party, no better place to fight that out perhaps than in Mississippi.”
The relevant portion of the transcript is below:
June 25, 2014
7:19 p.m. Eastern
STEVE KORNACKI, guest host: Today in a statement McDaniel said his team is looking into quote, irregularities, to see if a legal challenge is warranted. He said some of the tactics used were quote, unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, and Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, both are MSNBC political analysts. David, unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan. That is the same Ronald Reagan who we named the Reagan Democrats after because he cultivated all that Democratic support when he ran for president. Clearly McDaniel got caught off guard by this. They knew in the closing days that the Cochran campaign was reaching out to African-American voters. I don't think they thought this would happen. There is a bit of a wild card here as far as I’m concerned because at the speech last night where he refused to concede, the crowd is chanting, write in, write in, write in. You know, I can't read McDaniel that well from afar but there is a possibility here that he could still cause some serious headaches for Republicans this fall if he really wants to fight this thing. I guess the question is, does he want it fight it and stay or fight it another day?
DAVID CORN, Mother Jones: He certainly looked like he was the martyr who was ready to run another crusade. And you know, I would be happy to tell the Tea Party people who are mad at Cochran, the best thing to do is vote Democratic in the fall and pay him back. But I don't think that’s gonna happen. Two interesting things here, Steve, is that you know, the Republican Party has been trying to get black people to vote for them for a long time, and finally when it happens the Tea Partiers get upset. But more importantly, there is a real reason why black voters in Mississippi turned out to vote for Thad Cochran, to defeat Chris McDaniel at Mother Jones and other places, we reported on lots of statements that Chris McDaniel made that if not racist were certainly racially insensitive, and this is a guy who went to events sponsored by neo-confederate groups that think that wrong side won the Civil War. And he also voted against civil rights museum. So Tea Partiers always talk about citizens taking back the government and voting their principles. Well here are a bunch of people in Mississippi who saw this guy heading towards the halls in Washington and they realized they could stop them and they did.
KORNACKI: They did. Although, Gene, it does raise the other question of we have seen examples elsewhere and both parties have done this, strategic voting, where they have a right to go into the primary and they try get the weaker candidate. And in Mississippi where it is rare that the Democrat has the chance to win a race for federal office, for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi. It is arguable whether Travis Childers, the Democratic nominee would have had a shot against McDaniel. He certainly would have had a better shot against McDaniel than Cochran. Did Democrats shoot themselves in the foot here potentially by not nominating a candidate that might actually be able to beat in Mississippi?
EUGENE ROBINSON, Washington Post: No, not really, I never believed that the Republican nominee in Mississippi, whoever he might have been, was in serious danger of losing. I thought in the end that even McDaniel would probably win. But he won't now because of African-American voters in Mississippi did something that I just have to find kind of delicious. They availed themselves of the democratic process. They voted in counties and communities where you used it see hardly any votes in the Republican primary, all of a sudden there were a whole bunch of them. And you know, Chris McDaniel will have to deal with that. And his Tea Party patrons, the Ted Cruz's and Sarah Palin's of the world can pile back into the clown car and, I guess, drive off to the next state.
CORN: The thing is, Steve, it is possible–I don't know if Chris McDaniel can pull this off, but if he does decide to run as write-in candidate, that might give the Democrat an opening, and–
KORNACKI: That's what I'm wondering about. How is he gonna behave in the next few days, next few weeks.
CORN: As we saw from Thad Cochran, this is a guy who might literally fall asleep during a campaign event. So he is not a strong candidate. Though any Republican should hold that seat. So I–you know, you’re right–the way McDaniel was talking last night, it looks like he wants to have this fight. The civil war in the Republican Party, no better place fight that out perhaps than in Mississippi.