By HALEY BARBOUR
Mississippians appreciate Sen. Thad Cochran because he has been so effective for our state and our people. He recognized the federal disaster assistance laws that were in place before Hurricane Katrina were grossly insufficient to deal with the worst natural disaster in American history. Because of the respect he enjoys and the influence he wields on behalf of our state, he led the effort that passed new emergency disaster assistance laws that not only helped the Coast rebuild bigger and better after the storm, but his legislation became the model for future disaster assistance.
This is but one obvious reason Sen. Cochran is so well-regarded here. Another reason, however is that Thad is a gentleman who tells the truth and sticks to his word.
Regrettably, the author of a column in the Sun Herald last week is not bound by the facts. Instead, the op-ed written by former Congressman Chris Chocola is as hypocritical as it comes. I expected as much when I read the headline, "Thad Cochran is a liberal." But with all the out-of-state money being pumped into our state by groups like Chocola's Club for Growth, distortion was to be expected.
Chocola, a former two-term congressman from Indiana, runs a political action committee that spends most of its money trying to defeat Republican incumbents in GOP primaries. That group succeeded in defeating long-term Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar in the Republican primary in 2012, allowing a Democrat to win what had previously been a safe Republican Senate seat.
In his column, Chocola attacked Sen. Cochran for voting to increase the federal debt ceiling. What Chocola doesn't say is that he himself voted to increase the federal debt ceiling every time it came up while he was in Congress. So this "gentleman" attacks Cochran for doing exactly what he did every chance he got during his four years in Congress. How hypocritical can you get?
This is reminiscent of Chocola's preferred candidate in Mississippi, plaintiff lawyer Chris McDaniel. McDaniel campaigns against the Common Core education standards that the Mississippi Department of Education is implementing. What McDaniel doesn't tell you is that he has repeatedly voted in the state Senate for Common Core education standards legislation. In fact, he voted twice to fund the implementation of Common Core. Even though he is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which wrote this bill, he recently defended his votes to fund Common Core by saying he did not realize the funding was in the bill. Priceless.
This hypocrisy is bad enough, but then Chris Chocola flatly states that Sen. Cochran voted to fund Obamacare. What a fraudulent claim.
Sen. Cochran has stood against Obamacare at every turn: he has voted against its passage, to repeal it, to amend it and to defund it. Over and over again. What Chocola claims as voting to fund Obamacare was actually the fact that Thad Cochran voted to reopen the federal government after the shutdown last October.
The federal government shutdown, which was a failed political tactic, threatened the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers on the Coast, from Ingalls Shipyard to Keesler Air Force Base, from the Seabee Base to Stennis Space Center, and more.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., whom no one has ever accused of being a "liberal," said before and after the shutdown that it was a tactic that had no chance of success.
Still, Sen. Cochran voted to defund Obamacare when the House sent the bill to the Senate in September. Indeed, he has continually fought and voted against Obamacare, despite the false claims of Chris Chocola.
Sen. Cochran has not only represented Mississippi well in the Senate, he was the giant who stood tall and produced for our state at our greatest hour of need after Katrina. I don't know where we would be today if not for his effectiveness.
The great news is Thad is line to be chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee if Republicans win control of the Senate, as experts say appears increasingly likely this November.
He will again be able to ensure Mississippi and the Gulf Coast are treated fairly and the runaway spending of the Obama Administration is stopped in the last two years of President Obama's term.
Everybody reading this knows Cochran and his record of service. Every one of you can judge his service.
But don't be swayed by some out-of-state phonies who couldn't tell you the difference between Pascagoula and Pontotoc.
Haley Barbour served two terms as governor of Mississippi from 2004 to 2012. Write to him in care of Butler Snow LLP, P.O. Box 6010,Ridgeland, MS 39158-6010.