Age, strictly as a number, can be deceiving. Cochran isn’t the oldest senator, but questions about his mental state have persisted since he was re-elected to a seventh term in 2014.
During a bruising primary campaign in Mississippi, supporters of Cochran’s tea-party backed opponent accused Cochran of erratic behavior and struggling to recall recent events.
During Senate hearings, Cochran reads primarily from prepared text and he often cedes his prerogative as chairman to be the first to question witnesses. Cochran asked no questions of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at an April 27 hearing despite deep divisions between Republicans and the Obama administration over defense spending and the strategy for defeating the Islamic State group.
Chris Gallegos, Cochran’s spokesman, said the allegations during the 2014 primary were “not based on facts.” He said the senator is in fine health and keeps a vigorous schedule. “He knows what’s going on,” Gallegos said.