Jackson, Miss. Big money is funneling into the United States Senate race in Mississippi.
Sen. Thad Cochran was on the campaign trail Monday. He steered away from specifics on how he differs from his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. McDaniel is hoping a grassroots effort can uproot the six-term senator.
Cochran made about half a dozen campaign stops, one at Nucor Steel in Flowood.
“Trying to be sure that we understand the problems confronting us," said Cochran. "Come up with good answers to what we can to assure a bright future for our people.”
When asked about his GOP opponent, Cochran said he hasn't looked at McDaniel's characteristics.
"I'm just running my campaign, based on my qualifications to continue to serve as a United States senator,” Cochran said.
We caught up with McDaniel at the state capitol.
“The idea that he doesn't know me or is not paying attention goes to show he hasn't been in the state very often,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel was quick to point to what he thinks is a failing of the long-time senator.
“Anyone who refuses to balance the budget is out of touch," said McDaniel. "Anyone who votes for tax increases is out of touch. The people of this state have demanded that he be a conservative. To that extent, yes, his record is not conservative. So he's out of touch.”
“He's wrong," Cochran said. "He's flat wrong. I'm as in touch with the people of Mississippi as an elected official can be.”
McDaniel has strong support from outside conservative groups. Some of those have put support behind candidates like Ted Cruz in the past. It's the first time Cochran will have an opponent backed by the Tea Party.
“The Tea Party is something I don't really know a lot about. It's a free country," Cochran said. "We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process.”
“It's a shame because the Tea Party is a mass movement of people that really care about this country,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel is also pushing for the opportunity to debate Cochran before the June 3 Republican Primary.
At the start of 2014, Cochran had $1.1 million in his campaign account. McDaniel had nearly $391,000.