When an Ole Miss student challenged McDaniel’s past description of Mississippi as a “welfare state,” McDaniel stood by that characterization. Electing him would mean discarding Cochran, the presumptive next chairman of the Appropriations Committee in a potentially Republican Senate, for an outsider vowing no special deliveries for his constituents.
“I’m not going to do anything for you,” McDaniel said on campus. “I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.”
About an hour later and less than a mile away, speaking in the same fluid, confident patter, he hedged that statement. McDaniel said he was not prepared to take a position on either the federal farm bill or the Cochran-backed effort to fight rate hikes in flood insurance — two local issues for which assertive federal action is plainly popular.
“You can’t very well send 1,000 government promises to people and then pull the rug out from under them the next day. The people of the coast have come to depend upon that, to a certain extent,” McDaniel said on the flood insurance issue. “That’s not to say that, at some point, we don’t need some spending reform down there.”
And McDaniel repeatedly ducked questions about whether he would have voted for a Hurricane Katrina relief bill of urgent importance to Mississippi that McDaniel also described as laden with pork. “I would have to see the details of it. I really would,” McDaniel said. “That’s not an easy vote to cast.”
Pressed on the 2005 Katrina bill specifically, he conceded: “I probably would have supported it, but I don’t know enough about it.”