Chris McDaniel tries to crash Trump’s party

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville Associated Press

U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel just won’t take no endorsement from President Donald Trump for an answer.

McDaniel, a firebrand Republican who’s running in a Mississippi special Senate election in November, sent out emails Tuesday urging his supporters to attend an Oct. 2 Trump rally in Southaven, Mississippi — where the president will campaign for incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

“Let’s get every America First Conservative out to the rally in support of President Trump,” the McDaniel email reads “Show the President that Trump Country is McDaniel Country!”

Hyde-Smith’s campaign wasn’t pleased.

The Mississippi Coast got a preview in October 2017 of how state Sen. Chris McDaniel's 2018 campaign for Senate would be fought. He spoke at McElroy's in Ocean Springs.

“This is a whole new level of pathetic, even for Chris McDaniel,” said Melissa Scallan, a campaign spokeswoman.

Trump backed Hyde-Smith in a tweet last month, proclaiming that “Cindy has voted for our Agenda in the Senate 100% of the time and has my complete and total Endorsement.”

A person familiar with Trump’s thinking said that “the President welcomes all voters to attend the rally and hear his full endorsement for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.”

But McDaniel’s campaign, in the email, argues that “President Trump is fighting hard to Drain The Swamp, but he needs more help in the Senate and Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked Chamber of Commerce Senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, is just more of the swamp.”

Nonsense, countered Scallan.

“The president endorsed Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Chris McDaniel can’t seem to accept that,” Scallan said. “These emails are fooling no one. He does not have the president’s support, and he won’t ever.”

McDaniel has claimed that Trump picked Hyde-Smith over him because he’s under pressure from the Republican Party establishment, notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Trump “endorsed (the late Sen.) John McCain and (House Speaker) Paul Ryan for the same reasons,” McDaniel told McClatchy on Sept. 14. “Our goal is to make sure that Donald Trump is his own man, and never has to cut these deals with Mitch McConnell again.”

His remarks produced a swift rebuke from the White House.

“The president makes his own decisions and it’s insulting and unhelpful for anyone to claim otherwise,” the White House source told McClatchy. “Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith earned his trust and support, and the president is confident the people of Mississippi will make the right decision in November.”

When State Sen. Chris McDaniel was challenging U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the 2014 campaign, Cochran's campaign was trying to lure black voters by linking McDaniel to racist policies and organizations. McDaniel accused Cochran of race baiting.

Hyde-Smith, McDaniel, and Democrat Mike Espy are running in a so-called “jungle” election to fill the remainder of the term of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, who retired in April citing health reasons.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to temporarily fill Cochran’s seat. If none of the candidates gets over 50 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 election, the top two finishers will square off in a November 27 runoff.

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas