Barbour slams McDaniel, national groups during Senate Fight

Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour said he won’t retreat from the fight to keep the state’s six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in office and has harsh words for his rival, Chris McDaniel, and the Tea Party groups backing him in state’s GOP runoff.

“I couldn’t pick one of them out of a lineup with the Spice Girls,’ he said of the leaders of national conservative groups advancing McDaniel’s bid. “They couldn’t care less about what’s in the best interest of Mississippi.”

“They are trying to get Cochran as a trophy scalp so they won’t go out of business for the next (election) cycle because they lost every race they’ve gotten into.”

The June 24 runoff is the latest installment in the most intense GOP primary battle of the election year, pitting GOP establishment figures such as Barbour — a former two-term governor and powerhouse lobbyist in Washington – against Tea Party-aligned groups, such as the Club for Growth.

Barbour and other Cochran allies also are taking a sharper tone on policy issues as the three-week campaign heats up.

Barbour said McDaniel’s contention that the U.S. Department of Education is unconstitutional is an issue that will damage the state senator and spur voters to turn out to support Cochran, a veteran federal appropriator. He said McDaniel’s position jeopardizes the $800 million the state receives annually in federal K-12 funding — nearly 25% of the state’s education budget.

“That’s a radical, crazy idea that would be catastrophic for Mississippi education,” Barbour told USA TODAY.

“Thad Cochran and his allies are spouting Democratic scare tactics about the dangers of fiscal responsibility,” McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said in an e-mail. McDaniel “thinks like Mississippians do — we need to be good, conservative stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”

USA Today