The U.S. Senate race is heating up and both candidates are doing the best they can to reach out to voters in one of the biggest speeches of the campaign, Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair.
Since Chris McDaniel has been pushed out of the running, incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran says he doesn't want to lose focus trying to win over McDaniel supporters. But his opponent, Travis Childers, says he's calling out to all voters, no matter party affiliation.
"I'm running on my own and trying to do what's best with Mississippi," Sen. Cochran says. "I can't get sidetracked with a lot of partisan, political victory. I'm not up to that. I don't want to be a part of it."
"I'm going to reach out to every voter in the state of Mississippi," Childers says. "It matters not to me whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent or somewhere in between. I want to represent you, and I have a proven record."
Senator Cochran also spoke about his ability to potentially help Mississippi as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Childers talked about moving the state forward by making changes. And those backing McDaniel haven't given up the fight yet.
Tea Party supporters weren't in light numbers here at the fair. Over 30 showed up to silently protest a campaign that they're calling unethical.
Those protesters stood in the crowd with tape over their mouths and signs reading 'Betrayed!'
"It's kind of like the battered wife that's expected to come home to her husband after being beaten," Grant Sowell of the Tupelo Tea Party says. "This was not the Democrats that played race-baiting and fear-mongering. This was not the liberal media. This was Republicans."
Those Tea Party members say they continue to support McDaniel, even as this race pushes forward.
McDaniel's legal team issued a news release Thursday, saying the Republican Party is prohibited from recognizing Cochran as its nominee. It cited rules adopted by the Republican National Committee in 2012.
"Thad Cochran's acceptance of the nomination requires him to accept the 30,000 to 40,000 Democrat votes he received on June 24th," said attorney Mitch Tyner in the news release. "Accepting the nomination under such circumstances clearly disqualifies Sen. Cochran from eligibility as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from the Mississippi."
The news release included Rule 11(b):
“No state Republican Party rule or state law shall be observed that allows persons who have participated or are participating in the selection of any nominee of a party other than the Republican Party, including, but not limited to, through the use of a multiparty primary or similar type ballot, to participate in the selection of a nominee of the Republican Party for that general election. No person nominated in violation of this rule shall be recognized by the Republican National Committee as the nominee of the Republican Party from that state.”