Cochran campaign conference call ends abruptly on chaotic note

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) addresses supporters and volunteers at his runoff election victory party Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A conference call for reporters organized by the campaign of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) was ended abruptly Wednesday after a conservative blogger encouraged people to crash it and a man on the call interrupted with questions and comments about black voters and cotton.

Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell told Post Politics in a brief interview that call was terminated after someone asked a "wildly offensive question" and interrupted Austin Barbour, another Cochran campaign aide who was on the call with Russell.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported that an unidentified male on the call asked questions about harvesting cotton and black votes and repeatedly interrupted Barbour, prompting him to end the call. Roll Call reported the person repeatedly said that “black people harvested cotton” and accused the Cochran campaign of “harvesting black votes.”

Russell said the campaign organized the call to accommodate national reporters who were not able to attend a news conference designed to push back against claims made by Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel's campaign about voting irregularities in last week's runoff election.

Shortly before the call started, conservative blogger Charles Johnson, who published a story Tuesday alleging the Cochran campaign paid for votes in black communities, tweeted the dial-in information for the call and encouraged people to "crash" it with him. Russell said the blogger lobbed personal attacks against him.

Cochran defeated McDaniel in a hotly contested GOP runoff. But McDaniel has not thrown in the towel. Alleging "illegal voting from liberal Democrats," McDaniel promised in a fundraising e-mail that he was "not going down without a fight." Cochran's campaign has denied any improper activities.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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