A press call held by Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign was cut short by a comparison between harvesting cotton and harvesting votes. According to reports from several journalists, at one point a man asked "If black people were harvesting cotton, why is it OK to harvest their votes?" Cochran's campaign abruptly ended the press call after that, but several people stayed on the line to yell at one another.
The call was meant to push back claims that the Cochran campaign purchased votes or otherwise won the election illegitimately, but only served to further tensions within the Mississippi Republican party. According to Business Insider, the caller asked twice about "harvesting black votes," before Cochran campaign advisor Austin Barbour replied "Sir, I don't know where you're calling from, but I'm happy to address any question, no matter the lunacy of it."
The name of the commenter isn't currently known, but some suspect it was a McDaniel supporter. Charles C. Johnson, the conservative blogger who accused the Cochran campaign of engaging in a votes-for-cash scheme tweeted the call-in information to his followers before the call and invited them to crash it with him:
Soon afterwards he clarified that he "wasn't the dude who said anything about cotton," in case anyone was wondering. Other, more serious McDaniel supporters on the call expressed concern about the national media reporting that the comment came from their camp as well and that "if the guy was a McDaniel supporter himself, he had done the state senator no favors with the racist remarks," according to The Clarion Ledger. Either way, the damage has been done.
The full audio of the call is available here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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