A photo scandal that has turned Mississippi's Republican primary into the nastiest in the nation is fueling new attack ads as campaigning goes into the final week for incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party-backed rival Chris McDaniel.
McDaniel's new ad, "Shameless," was released Tuesday to answer a Cochran spot last week slamming the challenger over photos taken of Cochran's ailing and bedridden wife in a nursing home, the Clarion-Ledger
"You've probably seen Thad Cochran's negative attack ads. Newspapers call them shameless. I call them outrageous," the McDaniel ad says.
The reference was to Cochran's spot that asked: "It's the worst – a Chris McDaniel supporter charged with a felony . . . Had enough?"
Cochran's campaign has hinted McDaniel's team knew more about the incident than it led on; McDaniel's team insists it had no part in the filming
of Cochran's wife.
Cochran told The Wall Street Journal his team didn't start the mudslinging.
"If it's been ugly, it hasn't been because of me," he said. "The competitive nature of the campaign is OK."
Of the arrests in the case of the photos taken of Cochran's bedridden wife — including a state tea party leader — McDaniel would say only, "They have been arrested and we want to let the authorities do the job they are paid to do."
"The people in our state are waking up. They understand that Washington has to be changed," he told the newspaper. "They understand there's no way to change Washington unless we change the people we send to Washington."
According to the Washington Post
, the June 3 balloting gives national tea party groups their last best chance to beat a GOP senator in a primary this year.
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