Mr. Childers took the podium at 10:20 a.m. He was small of stature and had shaved what had been a signature small mustache, the kind one might find on a movie star from the 1920s. He called for a higher minimum wage and said he supported a national balanced-budget amendment. He did not attack Mr. Cochran directly.
“If you’re tired of Mississippi being last on every good list and first on every bad list, then I ask you to help me in making a difference,” he said.
Mr. Cochran, silver-haired and lean, went on at 10:30, fists raised like a victorious prizefighter. A few McDaniel supporters stood in front of him, some with red tape on their mouths. One sign read, “184,000 voters alienated,” referring to those who had voted for Mr. McDaniel.
“RINO,” read another sign — Republican in Name Only.
“Sit down!” a cranky female voice shouted behind them. And they did.
Mr. Cochran’s speech was the kind he had probably delivered dozens of times before. He joked winningly about his age, promised to repeal President Obama’s health care law, and reminded everyone that he would become the chairman of the Appropriations Committee if Republicans took control of the Senate.