Cochran’s speech centered on the contributions that the Scouting program has made in his own life. He spoke of a rare failure in pursuit of a merit badge as a boy. The lesson — to always be fully prepared when one is engaging in a competition — is one Cochran said has stuck with him for life.
He recounted earning his Eagle Scout rank in a troop at Byram — a fact that is still contained in his official Senate biography — and spoke of his belief that the Scouting program remains a vibrant laboratory for helping young people build character.
Cochran carried notes to the podium, but didn’t consult them. He spoke from heart. Cochran encouraged the Scouts to continue on their path, congratulated the adult volunteer Scouters, and thanked the donors to the BSA. Then he took his seat.
No mention of a campaign, no mention of the stakes of his re-election bid and no corny or veiled appeal to those in the room who were very much attuned to the political realities of the 2014 election in Mississippi. Reporters attending the event engaged him about the campaign before and after the event, but what the Scouts and Scouters experienced was a laid back evening with a fellow traveler — a salute to the Scouting program was someone who had shared their experiences.
The “ifs” of the Senate race in Mississippi in 2014 are momentous. If Cochran wins the race he’s favored to win and if the Republicans retake control of the U.S. Senate nationally, Cochran will once again be chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Given those facts, it would seem that Cochran would be justified in at least a small amount of urgency, a bit of tension if not downright worry. But the fact is Cochran’s demeanor at the Scouting fundraiser to which he lent his name to benefit 1,300 Scouts in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Monroe, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Webster and Winston counties was that of quiet determination and confidence.