Cochran talks economy, budget, health care at Gulfport meeting

GULFPORT — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is no stranger to the Harrison County Republican Club and Harrison County Republican Women and it was evident he had a lot of friends in the crowd at the groups’ meeting Wednesday at the Island View Casino.

“Welcome to the second largest city in the state of Mississippi,” said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes III, who introduced the six-term senator. “Also known as Thad Cochran Country.”

Hewes said Cochran, who is in a Republican Party primary race with state Sen. Chris McDaniel, has been a very helpful friend to have in Washington.

“Whether it’s one on one, whether it’s with a group, I have seen him at work at the capital,” Hewes said. “With his colleagues in the party, reaching across party lines to get things done, he understands what it takes to, quite frankly, be effective.”

He called Cochran the difference maker, “from a economic standpoint, a cultural standpoint, from every point from Pascagoula, where you have Ingalls, … to Stennis, one of the most the most influential and effective space agencies in the nation, to here at the port. We’ve done well.”

He said Cochran took the initiative on flood insurance, and Katrina relief.

The senator, he said, met with leaders on the Coast and took their advice to Washington.

“Politics is a team sport and a lot of folks worked both sides of the aisle,” Hewes said of the push to get changes to the Biggert-Waters Act, which overhauled the National Flood Insurance Program. “But Thad Cochran really got the attention of the Senate as a minority member. Majority-minority never mattered to him because he was always there to do the right thing.”

He called Cochran’s work to get Katrina recovery money “one of our finest moments.”

Cochran followed with a stump speech, but spent most of the time talk about others rather than himself.

He praised the economic development and the quality of life of in South Mississippi,

“The strength, the resilience and the optimism of the Mississippi Gulf Coast

are truly inspiring,” he said. “For all you’ve been through to still say, ‘I’m going to make good things happen here in my community, in my town, in our community,”

He said he would support policies at the federal level that would support economic growth and job creation.