Opinion

Oh, good: Hillary Clinton has thoughts on the Republican primary in Mississippi

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Tea Party,Hillary Clinton,Mississippi,2014 Elections,Thad Cochran,Becket Adams,Chris McDaniel

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., for reaching out to Democratic and minority voters in his June 24 runoff election, the Hill reported.

In an interview with C-SPAN that will air Saturday, Clinton said she was “actually quite taken” with the Mississippi primary and was impressed that Cochran courted black voters against his Tea Party-backed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

"That's what you're supposed to do," Clinton said in an interview that took place in Little Rock, Ark.

"You’re not supposed to just reach out to those who already agree with you," she said, adding that Cochran, her former senate colleague, is a "great gentleman."

Elsewhere in the interview, Clinton criticized lawmakers who brag that “they'll never compromise.”

"Now, I am a person of faith, but I don’t think any human being has the truth. They act as if they have a channel to the divine or to some other source of direction and that is just contrary to how democracies work,” she said.

With support from Democratic and minority voters, Cochran edged out McDaniel in the June 24 run-off election with 51 percent of the vote.

However, the tactics reportedly employed by the Cochran campaign, which may have included race-baiting fliers and robocalls, have drawn sharp criticism from McDaniel's camp.

In fact, the Tea Party-backed upstart is so convinced that Cochran's victory carries with it the stench of fraud that he has yet to concede defeat.

“McDaniel's campaign hasn't conceded and is compiling evidence to mount a legal challenge to the results, contending thousands of Mississippians illegally voted in both the Democratic primary and GOP runoff,” the Hill reported.

McDaniel has called on his supporters to help him finance the legal challenge "that this case deserves.”

“Last week’s runoff election was a sham, plain and simple,” McDaniel said in a fundraising email, adding that his team has a “long fight ahead."

It is illegal in the Magnolia State for a voter to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary and then later in the Republican runoff. McDaniel's camp claims this is exactly what happened on June 24 after Cochran's team openly courted black Democratic voters.

“This issue strikes at the heart of election integrity,” True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement. “Confidence in our voting process risks damage beyond repair when politicians of either party are willing to flout election laws in the name of self-preservation. Voters deserve to know that election processes and protocols were followed – especially in a close outcome.”

Other Tea Party groups have thrown their support behind McDaniel.

“Only a fool would dispute that McDaniel is the clear choice of Republicans in [Mississippi],” Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin told Breitbart. “He is, by all rights, the Republican nominee, regardless of what state law states.”

For its part, Cochran's campaign has characterized the challenge as a joke.

McDaniel is in the middle of “an absurd public meltdown not based in reality,” said Cochran strategist Stu Stevens, adding that he suspects the requests for money have to do with debt accrued during the primary.

“Chris McDaniel is accusing the governor and all elected officials in the state of Mississippi of engaging in a monstrous fraud and the inability to conduct a free and fair election. His proof? He lost,” Stevens told ABC News. “He's embarrassing the state, he's embarrassing the GOP, he's accusing the state of Mississippi of being a banana republic because more people participated in a Republican election ... most people would that think that's good news. He thinks it's a fraud because he lost.

“In six months, Chris McDaniel will be an asterisk and Thad Cochran will be a U.S senator,” Stevens added, “and he could have had some sort of career.”

The Mississippi Republican Party is expected to formalize Cochran's victory next week, but it's likely McDaniel will launch a legal challenge, further dragging out what has been a bitter and ugly fight between the two candidates.

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