McDaniel: Cruz, Paul and Extremism

By Senator Chris McDaniel


Those of us who follow the tenets of conservatism know the tired, worn-out campaign catchwords and phrases well: Extremist, Radical, Fanatic, Zealot, Racist, Arsonist.

And the sad part is that most of these insults originate not from Democrats but from our fellow Republicans, who engender despicable primary disputes, making the Left’s job much easier in general elections.

This is precisely why Ronald Reagan crafted his famous 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.

Reagan, however, was not implying that we should never criticize or even challenge other Republicans, as he himself challenged a sitting GOP President in 1976, only that we should refrain from the kind of harsh and vile attack lines that Democrats utilize against us.

Although the 2016 presidential race is more than a year away, anti-conservative mudslinging is already in full swing. Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign was minutes old when the Establishment piled on him with full force and vigor, with the essence of their assaults being that he was too extreme to win the nomination or the general election.  And when Senator Rand Paul announced his candidacy, he too was immediately ridiculed.

Unfortunately, I am familiar with such tactics.  In my 2014 campaign for US Senate, I did not denigrate Thad Cochran with attack words.  I respected him and showed him the courtesy he deserved.  But in his few public remarks, Cochran used harsh rhetoric, calling me an “extremist” who was too “dangerous” to serve in Washington, an attack promoted by the Huffington Post.

The Cochran camp then took the smear strategy to new heights during the three week run-off in June and convinced thousands of our fellow Mississippians, mostly Democrats who crossed over to save his candidacy, that I was somehow a racist who wanted to throw the poorest people out in the street, take away all government programs, and even close down the shipbuilding industry on the coast.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

With such vile accusations, it appears some of our fellow Republicans would prefer to see a Democrat in office rather than those who follow conservative principles without apology.

So, that begs the question, since they never define the term:  What does it mean to be an extremist?

What is more “extreme,” a desire to balance the budget quickly by eliminating unnecessary and wasteful spending, thereby stopping the spiraling national debt; or an insistence on continuing the current level of spending without regard to future generations until our economy collapses because of a Keynesian belief that government has a major role to play in the economy?

Who is more “zealous,” a conservative who wants to reform entitlements so that they will exist for youth of today; or an establishment politician who sides with Democrats in denouncing as “extreme” any conservative plans to institute true reform?

Who is more “radical,” an officeholder who desires to uphold his oath of office and follow all of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, as written by our Founders and ratified by every state in the Union; or one who employs a cafeteria approach and believes we can choose which parts of the Constitution to follow and which ones to ignore, choosing only to value liberty when it is convenient?

Who should be considered an “arsonist,” a candidate who believes in the rule of law, that America is a nation governed by laws and not men; or one who believes appointed federal judges can and should fabricate law at will?

Who is more “dangerous,” a candidate who believes that every child, born or unborn, is a gift from God and who has a longing to save the life of every child in the womb, ensuring unborn children all the rights enumerated in the Constitution; or one who compromises such sacred principles in order to win an election?

What is more “fanatical,” one who wants to gradually end our unsustainable welfare state and improve our economy so that those on public assistance can obtain good, high-paying jobs, climb the ladder of opportunity, and achieve the American Dream; or one who wants to keep a failed system in place and mire the poor in more poverty, misery, and squalor with no way to escape?

To accept the argument that Cruz and Paul are radicals is to abandon common sense and traditional conservative thought, not to mention the national GOP platform.  To believe the smear of their “unelectability” is to effectively acknowledge the end of the Reagan revolution.

So why the internal strife?  Why are conservatives vilified?

Candidates like Cruz and Paul love and value our country more than our party, while the established order often places the party above the country.  Put simply, some see the party as an engine that can help them get rich off the backs of the taxpayers, and it shows with their policies.  Even worse, establishment politicians tend to worship power, prestige, personalities and large corporate donors more than they value the party’s core principles.

But conservatives adhere to principles and see the party not as a machine for self-aggrandizement and personal advancement but as a means of promoting liberty, the lasting interests of all the people.

Adherence to conviction makes us targets.

But it is a worthwhile fight and one we must win.



  1. Hey Chris: During the campaign to unseat Thad, I would comment on this cite that some of your views are so extreme that like your political mentor, Ted Cruz, you are an anarchist.
    You supported Ted’s grandstanding to shut down the government, knowing that the Democrats would not budge on certain issues. He later admitted that he knew all along that he was never going to be successful in his efforts of changing the course of any legislation. Like Ted, you seemed prepared (by your rhetoric at least) to support his efforts to tear down the government in order to make his futile point. That’s not governance. Rather, that is legislative anarchy. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with fighting for your principles. But we live in a secular democratic republic. Most legislation gets passed and ultimately signed by the executive through compromise. Engaging in tactics that involve extortion and ultimatums just make one’s adversaries dig their heels in deeper. Therefore, for this and many other reasons, the harsh criticism that you received throughout the campaign by your fellow conservatives was brought on by yourself. Perhaps, the very skills that have made you such an effective trial attorney, work against you in the role as a legislator.

    • MichaelW says:

      David, I only have this to say about extremism, if the established Republicans and Democrats who put us over 18 Trillion dollars in debt is not extremism then I don’t know what is. In questioning some conservatives efforts to try to do something about it then I hope you can save some of your criticism for the powers that got us into this mess to include established Republicans and Democrats and yes,even Ole Thad.

  2. William Smith says:
  3. Hey Michael: You are absolutely correct on this one. Democrats and Republicans alike have been guilty over the years of doling out the pork in order to pander to their constituencies.Therefore, in a perfect scenario, before voting to approve any spending bill or measure, each bill should be required to articulate specifically how the spending measure secures our defense and/or promotes the general welfare of the nation as a whole. If a spending measure does not qualify on this basis, it should not be soundly rejected by the committee members from where it originates. My concerns regarding folks like Ted and Chris are not their beliefs and commitments to most conservative principles. Rather, it’s in their tactics–the anarchy and unrest that they are prepared to cause the country to endure, while knowing that their strategy cannot prevail until such time as the Congress and the White House are controlled by the GOP. Remember, Gingrich thought that he could bully Bill Clinton over certain spending issues back in 1990s. As a result, we had a protracted government shutdown. Using his bully pulpit, Clinton went around the country blaming the shutdown on Gingrich and the Republicans. It wasn’t long thereafter that the GOP lost its congressional majority and Newt was forced to step down as Speaker and resign his seat. The unfortunate fact for Chris is that many Mississippians were ready to see Thad retire and allow Roger Wicker to be our senior senator. We wanted a new generation of political leadership to take the stage. However, we didn’t want a political anarchist. Yet, Chris made it perfectly clear that he relished the opportunity of going to Washington to be just as much of an outcast among his congressional peers as he has been among his state legislative peers in Jackson. I submit that kind of attitude is not in the best interest of the country, or Mississippi. To be sure, conservatism is the only political philosophy that holds any lasting credibility, given human nature. Government shutdowns and other acts of pandering to the madding crowd may be pleasing to the faithful. However, our conservative leaders must be prepared to work within the existing framework of governance if they are to have any meaningful success. Remember, ours is a secular democratic republic. Let’s keep it that way!

    • David,

      I serve with Chris. Although we don’t always agree, he is far from an outcast in the Senate. You are wrong about that.

      He is very well-respected and liked by his peers.

      Tate Reeves, on the other hand, doesn’t like him very much.

      I agree with many of your points, but I did need to set the record straight. Chris is a good man and doesn’t deserve the smears.

  4. Correction: “If a spending measure does not qualify on this basis, it should be soundly rejected by the committee members from where it originates.”

  5. William Smith says:

    Senator, re Reagan I think you are quite selective. Yes, he challenged a sitting President. But, when he lost, he did not cry foul or refuse to concede that he lost. He went onto the stage with President Ford, and he spoke a few words to the convention. He also did a commercial endorsing Ford for election. He did not talk about the unfair things that were said and done. He got on with working to strengthen the Party and to support its candidates That is quite different from what you did and continue to do.

    Also it is worth noting that it was the MS Republican delegation that gave President Ford the nomination. (I agreed with that, because I thought we owed the President for seeing the country through the Watergate crisis). What this shows is that the founders and those who led to MS Republican Party to its present success were not the sort of Republicans you apparently have in mind when you continue to speak about taking MS Republican Party back to its “roots.” Men like Clarke Reed and Gil Carmichael are the roots of the MS Republican Party. It is sad to see that you and your followers are seeking to tear down what good people patiently worked to build up and which labors eventually led to the present domination of the the Republican Party in MS – holding all state executive offices save Attorney General, holding both Houses of the legislature, and holding 3 of 4 Congressional seats and both Senate seats.

    Reagan’s eleventh commandment would apply to you as well as to the Cochran campaign. You continue to speak ill of your fellow Republicans and to claim that you lead the “real” conservatives. Reagan had a much more moderately to moderate liberal element within national GOP to deal with than we do now. But he worked with them. He did not speak ill of them, or accuse them of being liars, or seek to unseat them. I think that your accusing the Cochran campaign of violating the Commandment while exonerarting yourself, your campaign, and your supporters (did you not read the great many vile and vulgar attacks on Sen. Cochran on your facebook pages) is a case of the pot calling thre kettle black.

    The problem with Ted Cruz that contrasts with Reagan is that Reagan was not willing to blow things up. Reagan had strong convictions but he was a realist, knew how to work with people, and most important was likeable. He also knew how to govern. I don’t think Cruz can get the nomination but if he did we could have a debacle of historic proportions on our hands. To say that Cruz is unelectable is not at all to say the same thing that was said by those who said Reagan was not electable. Cruz is the sort of conservative who within months of Reagan’s taking office accused him of selling out.

    I think we can hold both the House and the Senate if we have good candidates like those of the 2014 cycle, and i think we can win the Presidency. It would be a great shame to blow this historic opportunity.

    What you did last year in the way you went against Cochran and what you have have continued to do is to try to lock the MS Republican Party into a fight to the death. You may win a victory here and there, but I don’t think you can win the war. In the meantime, however, you will do some damage and involve the Party in conflict that is not good for it. This is why I wish you would have run for Lt, Gov. this year. This would have allowed MS Republicans to have it out and get the thing settled.

    It’s time to take Reagan as your example.

    • Jane Green says:

      William, you and David post the best comments. You articulate well what most people think. I am sure McDaniel is a good man, and I firmly believe if he had conceded, toned down the rhetoric, and realized that he should join in in fighting the Democrats instead of Republicans, he could have easily unseated Whicker. He has nobody to blame for not being in Washington (if not now, in the near future) but himself.

      • 50,000 Democrats crossed over to give Thad the victory.

        In so doing, they slandered McDaniel, calling him a racist. They ran on foodstamp use!!!!!

        Why should he accept corruption?

        Are you serious?

      • Jane Green says:

        Are YOU serious? Where on earth did you come up that number? From the first primary to the second primary, Chris got 29,532 more votes. Thad got 38,617 more votes. So you are convinced that every single one of Thad’s increase plus 11,000 are cross-over “Democrats”? That would also mean that 11,000 people that voted for Thad the first time around stayed home for the second time around. And I guess you also think that the 29,532 that Chris picked up were all “pure” and “true” conservatives and “patriots”? Do you see how silly that is?

      • says:

        What’s the point, Mike. Time to get over it. It’s done.

      • Mike is 100 percent right and I think he would agree with me on this one: You folks are like wife beaters who beat the daylights out of their wives and then want them back but never want the beatings to be brought up again! So what’s wrong? Does the truth hurt?

      • William Smith says:

        We are not talking about a marriage – in a marriage such as you describe there is either a divorce or the marriage is fixed. It does no good to keep bringing up the matter. End the marriage or move on in the marriage. But, as I say, this is not a marriage. It was a political race and an election. There is no point in keeping returning to the primaries and the election. Neither is going to be oveturrned. When the Supreme Court of MS ruled the primary was over. And when that the decision was made the election of the Republican was all but assured. In any case the people of MS cast their votes in the election electing the Republican nominee by not quite 60-40 margin. The elected Senator has the office for 6 years, So, if you don’t find you can live in the Party (which is happy to have you in it), then join the Democrat Party, join one of the existing third parties, or form your own. Or, if you like the marriage analogy, divorce yourself from the Party that wrong you and look toward a possibe remarriage to someone you think will be a good mate or decide to stay in the marriage and see what can be done to improve it. If I were counseling an abuse spouse, who did not feel safe, I would counsel divorce. If the person decided to stay, then I would counsel intensive therapy to try to repair the marriage. What I woudl not counsel is staying and bringing up the past every day for the simple reason that a marriage can not work in that way. It seems to me that you have not been able to bring yourselves to divorce, and that there is no parallel to therapy. So you are chosing the unworkable option. The point is: Decide what you want. The Party In MS as it is now is on a line of continuum with its founders and its history. So do you want to be a part of that Party or some other Party? I think you should follow the example of Reagan who did not cry fall, endorsed Ford, did not keep telling people he had been wronged nor become bitter, stayed in the Party, did not try to kick anyone out of it, did not promote acrimony, did not portray himself as the only real or righteous Republican, and continued to build good relations across the whole spectrum of the Party. The bitterness and acrimony of the McDaniel camp is the opposite of Reagan. It may or may not harm the Party. What is certain is that it is harming itself.

      • William Smith says:

        Or, to put it more succintly, Mike is wrong.

  6. MichaelW says:

    Jane , it has got to be lunacy for any one to believe that cross-over democrats didn’t decide the Mississippi Senate Race. If you believe anything else you might want to check the records of Hinds County and the Delta Counties. If you believe this was an O.K. thing within the Republican Primary then you need to make yourself a card carrying Democrat if you aren’t one already. Everyone knows what went on within the establishment republican party and the Barbour boys to recruit Democrats so they could hang onto power with at least one senator in their pocket under the disguise of what is best for Mississippi. Maybe it’s time that some so called republican supporters awoke to what is going on right in front of them and either fail to notice or just refuse to notice. If you agree with the establishment republicans that being 18 trillion in debt is okay and it is a good thing to keep sending the same folks back to Washington who got us in this mess is good then you have got to be out of your mind.

    • William Smith says:

      Michael, no one’s crazy. People have disagreements. Conservatives have disagreements. Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley had a public debate about the Panama Canal Treaty. Reagan was against it; Buckley for it. But it did not cause a rift between them. Buckley and Reagan were and remained friends. Buckley strongly supported Reagan. In years after Buckley pointed out a couple of things. 1) It demonstrated to the public that conservatives could disagree with one another without writing each other off. 2) Had Reagan not opposed the Treaty he would not have got the nomination because most of the right wing opposed it. Had the Treaty not be approved, Reagan would not have been elected because of the riots and unrest that would have followed its defeat.

      Did Democrats cross over to vote for Cochran in the runoff? Yes. Did they make the difference? Probably. Was it illegal or immoral? No. MS does nto have party registration, and there is no way to determine how a person who votes in the primary votes in the the general election. But, look also at what MS wanted when it came to the general election. Cochran got not quite 60% of the vote. People in general were not unhappy with Cochran despite the effrots of come McDaniel followers to try to undermine him in the general election.

      What exactly does Haley Barbour want to control by having Cochran in his pocket? What strings is Barbour pulling? And, lest we forget, Barbour was a very successful Republican Govrernor of MS, and much of the Party’s success in MS right now is a result of Barbour’s work. That Barbour and McDaniel don’t like each other is not surprising. That Barbour is the smarter and more effective politician is obvious.

      The only Republican Party we have is the Republican Party. It is a far more conservative Party than it was when Reagan ran, and Reagan did not make war on his fellow Republicans. We also have a far more conservative field of Presidential contenders. What you call the establishment is really the conservative Republican leadership and caucus in both Houses of Congress. It is not the corrupt establishment vs the few pure Republicans like Cruz and McDaniel.

      There are lots of reasons for the deficit. BTW for a little prespective folks like you back in the Reagan years were unhappy with him and saying “No trillion dollar debt!” The deficit has to be reduced, but it make take a crisis to make the measures necessary to reduce it palatable to the majority of the electorate. And it likely is going to take both decreased expenditures and increased revenues. Pain all around will be required. I hate it; you hate it; but do the math on it.

      So, you and folks like McDaniel and the UCF don’t like a lot that is giong on. Me either. But continuing to accuse your Republican brethern of not being conservatives or of being a corrupt establishment will do nothing toward solutions that will require all Republicans to come together.

      • MichaelW says:

        Yes, the lines are getting more and more blurred, hard to tell the Democrats from the Republicans. So because of the circumstances you think being corrupt is an O.K. deal as long as we can just all get along and quit calling each other names, sorry I wasn’t raised this way. Why haven’t you spoken out against the racist ads by the Barbours and the established mississippi Republicans during the Senate race, and yes that was immoral and sometimes illegal for those that voted in both primaries. Sorry, you are just plain wrong when you say that their was nothing wrong or illegal about the cross over voting. Your comments are always totally for pro establishment career politicians. We don’t need to attack each other, we don’t need to rock the boat, but sometimes you have to do these things or guess what, nothing happens or nothing changes. And yes the Republican establishment is the leaders of both houses, the entrenched career politicians, the super pacs and their families and cronies regardless of how you sugarcoat it. We have allowed career politicians to entrench us in debt for generations to come, shame on the politicians for doing it, shame on us for allowing it, and shame on us for saying it is O.K. I also agree that it will take a concentrated effort on all people to change the ways of Washington and maybe one day you can make the effort to point out the short comings of our career politicians instead of just saying well we need to come together for the betterment of the party so we can get things done. These career politicians,Cochran, McConnell, and many others have been there for over 40 years, how much time do they need? Guess what, you and I will be dead one day and we will leave this mess to our children and grandchildren, shame on you and I for allowing it and for waiting so long to speak out about it.

  7. William Smith says:

    Michael, I don’t know how old you are, but the reality is that the lines are now more distinct than I can remember their ever being. I was born in ’47. There are so distinct that it is almost impossible for the House and Senate to act except on things that absolutely have to be done like funding the government or for which there is strong bipartisan support like fixing the doctor reimbursements for Medicare and asserting the Congress’ authority on the Iraq deali. It is true that Mitch McConnell runs the Senate in a very different way from Harry Reid. More open more willing to allow amendments and debate, more respectful of rights if individual Senators, etc. If that’s blurring any lines, then let’s blur them.

    As to illegalities in the Senate race, the Supreme Ct of MS did not find for McDaniel. No one at state or federal level has brought any criminal or civil complaints. So where’s the illegality. To allege it is one thing – to have grounds for alleging another. I’l leave it to you to show the immorality.

    As for racism, I have listened to McDaniel radio shows. I have read the code words he used in the campaign. Pot calling kettle black there – if you’ll forgive the pun. But let me ask you a sincere question. How much do you care about racism? If you could not hurl the charge of racism at Haley Barbour, would you care about racism in MS?

    Is there any establishment with Republicans? Of course. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Were it not for such leadership apparatus nothing would get done. Where we disagree really is that you use establishment as a code word for “not conservative.” As I have said the Senate and House now are more conservative than they have been in my lifetime. If we can get a R President, much good will get done though not all that you define as good.

    The question you have to ask is, Do I want to get something done or do I want to complain, label, and stay in perpetual attack mode. If you want to get anything done, then you have to work with others and you have to negotiate, find allies, negotiate and compromise – as Reagan did. No amount of jumping up and down and hollering and condemning, and denouncing will accomplish things you are for. So do you want to do something or nothing? Those are your choices and the choices of Sen. McDaniel, Sen. Sojourner, the UCF, the disgruntled who look to McDainiel, et al.

    • Jane Green says:

      Once again you hit it out of the park with that comment, William.

    • michaelw says:

      the difference between washington democrats and republicans when it comes to continue to spend money we don’t have and always raising the debt ceiling so it seems like that makes it o.k. to continue to go deeper into debt. evidently by the evidence, none. the democrats don’t mind throwing it in your face,republicans will go along and always have a reason that they have no choice. they like the printing press just as much as the dem’s. if you are able to handle your personal finances the same as these guys then please send me the name of your banker, mine don’ t seem to understand, he always puts a small limit on my debt ceiling.

      as far as getting something done with the great compromise approach of these politicians, please let me know of all the great things that they have done to help get our financial situation in order so that our finances are stable. i mean besides agreeing for our yearly debt to possibly be the same as last years debt or maybe 2 trillion more than last year as proposed by the president.
      as far as you and i both being conservatives, well evidently you and i are at different ends of the rainbow. that could be a long discussion and i have to get ready to go to work so i can help support the people that my compromising representatives say is best for the country. i was raised to believe that we as a society are there to help old folks, kids, and invalids. everyone else can take care of themselves. the sooner our representatives learn this then the better off we will all be. till then i will continue to speak out when i see the wrongs of our elected officials, whether local or national, republican or democrats.
      as far as the supreme court, they didn’t rule on legality of election, they just backtracked on a prior ruling and tried to get rid of a hot potato. more later, according to the stats i owe about 160k for the debt and growing so i better figure a way to get this done

  8. Jane & Bill, what we must conclude from the dialog over the last year, is that Senator McDaniel, Keith Plunkett, Michael W, and the rest of the MCGOPERs are so fed up with the existing situation that they find our country to be in, that they are willing to tear down the existing political structure and hit the “RESET” button to start anew. As Bill Clinton would say, “I feel their pain!” However, I am prepared to wait and see what happens once we achieve a Republican in the White House and a Congress that is dominated by the GOP for at least 6 years in order that meaningful, pro-growth and economic savings can be passed into law. To the best of my knowledge, that has not occurred since Eisenhower was president. If conservative economic policies cannot be implemented under those conditions, with a concurrent meaningful start in reduction of the 18 trillion dollar national debt and balanced budgeting, who knows, we may all become MCGOPERs by that time. To be sure, Michael W and the MCGOPERs are absolutely justified in their concerns regarding the mounting national debt. I just want to encourage them to trust in the existing political framework for a while longer, and when they vote, be sure to follow the Buckley Rule: “Vote for the most conservative candidate in the primaries who stands the best chance of winning in the general election.”

  9. michaelw says:

    yea, i guess all the career politician supporters are willing to wait another 40 years to see how far in debt you are going to leave our grandchildren. i have already apologized to mine, it may be time for some of you guys to gather yours together and go over all these reasons that you all contend makes it o.k. to be in our present financial situation. i doubt they will be very understanding when they get their tax bill every year and their money has no purchasing power. i guess they will just say ” well grandpa said it was all for the best”.

    • William Smith says:

      I am old enough and in this instance, at least, wise enough not to get my grandchildren together and say something that would not understand, do not have the capacity to care about yet, and which, to the extent they could understand would create for them an sense of vague anxiety about which they could do nothing. We grownups have to be grownups and not say things to our grandchildren that will not in any way help them.

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