Cochran slams challenger as 'dangerous'

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) finally came out swinging at his primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, as their runoff battle continues into its first full week.

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In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger, Cochran attacked McDaniel as "an extremist,” said the candidate’s waffling on whether he’d have voted for disaster aid following Hurricane Katrina was “outrageous” and said electing him would be “dangerous.” 

“[McDaniel] is trying to indict that kind of power and influence in Washington?" Cochran said. "It would be dangerous to have somebody like him elected."

That’s in stark contrast to his strategy throughout much of the primary, during which he largely avoided the press and declined to take jabs at McDaniel when he did sit down for interviews.

His campaign also released a new ad that highlights advancements in the state’s aerospace industry, shipbuilding, research and development and agricultural industry evidence of Cochran’s leadership in the Senate.

In it, Cochran declares, “I can do more for Mississippi,” and a narrator calls him “a powerful voice for our state.”

It’s a full-throated embrace of Cochran’s age and experience, which are part of the reason he’s been so vulnerable to begin with. But Cochran’s campaign is banking on the belief that when Mississippians realize how that seniority benefits them, they won’t want to give it up for a candidate Cochran’s team hopes to paint as an amateur.

McDaniel also released a new ad, framing the runoff as historic and listing the candidate’s basic conservative selling-points — his opposition to ObamaCare, emphasis on reducing the debt and cutting taxes and support for term limits — as well as his endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The ad’s real goal, however, is to remind voters to turn out for another election — it twice repeats the date of the runoff.

McDaniel also picked up the endorsement of Fox News host Sean Hannity, who said on his radio show he'd vote for the candidate.

Two polls out this weekend had McDaniel ahead of Cochran, and he's believed to have the upper hand in the runoff, a situation that has Democrats optimistic, as they believe they have a shot at picking up the seat if McDaniel takes the nomination.

But Cochran signaled on Tuesday he plans to fight fiercer than before to hold onto his seat.