By Matthew Boyle, Breitbart News, May 21, 2014
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel told Breitbart News Tuesday that he’ll fight against amnesty for illegal aliens by way of the military if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate over incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the state’s GOP primary on June 3.
“It’s not acceptable,” McDaniel said of a proposal from Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin that would use the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
“It’s especially troubling considering the fact that Chuck Hagel, an individual that Sen. Cochran supported, wants to cut our military to pre-World War II levels,” McDaniel said. “It’s unusual to me how Hagel is pushing for such dramatic cuts, and yet he wants to bring in illegals aliens for political expediency. That’s something that’s troubling.”
McDaniel’s comments come as he leads Cochran in the polls. One by Citizens United, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, and another by Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, conducted Wednesday, show Cochran in serious danger of losing the election. The Citizens United poll has McDaniel with a slight 43-39 lead, inside the margin of error; the other poll puts McDaniel up 43-36, a seven-point lead, outside the margin of error.
Meanwhile, Cochran’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are questioning the actions of blogger Clayton Thomas Kelly’s alleged illicit sneaking into the nursing home of Cochran’s wife Rose Cochran to snap a photograph of her. In the wake of a weekend press disaster, McDaniel’s campaign is fending off allegations from them that he had anything to do with Kelly’s actions. Tuesday evening, Kelly’s attorney publicly stated he was not party of a “conspiracy” to do this and acted alone—despite help getting information, not help completing the action, from some local bloggers unaffiliated with the McDaniel campaign.
McDaniel’s move to talk about actual issues again—while Cochran’s campaign refuses to make the senator available for press interviews and will not let him debate McDaniel—comes when Cochran’s major subcommittee in the Senate in Washington is becoming a major battlefield for the immigration debate.
Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee, has said he wants to put language in the NDAA that would grant such amnesty to illegal alien minors, or DREAMers, if they enlist in the military. If Durbin can’t get it in the NDAA, he wants the Department of Defense to step up and enact such a policy administratively outside the purview of Congress.
Durbin’s GOP counterpart on the panel, ranking member Thad Cochran, hasn’t said a word about it.
“The proposal’s bad, and Sen. Cochran’s silence is disturbing,” McDaniel told Breitbart News. “But we’ve grown accustomed to it. He’s been silent for many years. In fact, I can’t think of a single issue or a single charge he’s led against the Obama administration. As the ranking member of that subcommittee, he has the responsibility to fight for Mississippi values, and in that environment silence is complicity. Mississippi needs somebody that’s going to fight.”
Mississippi is facing the military cuts issue up close and personal right now, as the Defense Department is weighing terminating the state’s longest-serving National Guard unit—the 155th—from its base up near Tupelo. McDaniel thinks it’s unfair that Mississippians—American citizens—would suffer loss of military service opportunities so illegal aliens seeking amnesty can enlist in the armed services.
“There are many, many Americans, particularly here in the South and especially in Mississippi, that see military service as an honorable profession,” McDaniel said. “My family is among those. My grandfather served, and many members of my staff served. So we recognize the importance of the military in a state like Mississippi, and to think that Mississippians would be excluded due to the fact that illegals are being brought in—that’s a concern to anyone with a degree of sensibility.”
Likewise, McDaniel said conservatives who support ending Washington’s wasteful spending are not to blame for military cuts—an oversized federal government is. He said cuts should be made to other parts of government where money is being is wasted before military cuts happen—something on which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel differs with him.
“There’s no justification for balancing the budget on the backs of the military,” McDaniel said. “Mississippi has a proud military tradition. As I understand it, the 155th is Mississippi’s oldest National Guard unit. We’re very proud of it, and we want to fight for its survival, and we intend to fight for its survival.”
However, seeing as Cochran was the first Senate Republican to support Hagel’s confirmation as Defense Secretary—Cochran served with Hagel in the U.S. Senate—McDaniel said the ramifications of Cochran’s support for Hagel are now trickling down into Mississippi.
“Elections certainly have consequences,” McDaniel said. “We’re seeing evidence of that now. He was, as you might recall, the very first Republican to cross over to support Hagel. A few others joined him later, reaching across the aisle to support Hagel’s confirmation, and now Mississippi is having to live with the negative consequences of that action. That’s very disappointing.”
McDaniel said he would handle this issue differently than Cochran because in addition to pushing legislation, if he held that U.S. Senate seat, he’d publicly fight for making sure that the 155th is protected and that America’s national defense is kept strong.
“One of the key responsibilities of a senator is not simply to legislate but to communicate and to be vocal,” McDaniel said. “And I would handle it differently because I would be leading the charge not only through legislation but also through communicating the importance of the 155th to be sure that its proud history is preserved.”
McDaniel said the Constitution lays out support for national defense, which is a critical and legitimate role of government—unlike wasteful spending programs.
“Military spending is a legitimate function of government,” McDaniel said. “On the other hand, free cell phones are not a legitimate function of government. If our government was functioning the way it was supposed to be and exercising the powers it was supposed to be, as opposed to all the powers they’re exercising outside the Constitution of this country, then there would be more than enough money for military spending.”
Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell has not responded to a request for comment on this matter.