Washington Bureau

06.17.14

Confederate Dog Whistle In Pro-McDaniel Ad

In an ad aired by allies of Mississippi Senate hopeful Chris McDaniel, the candidate appears speaking in front of what looks to be a Confederate flag.

Is that a dog whistle in your ad or are you just happy to elect Chris McDaniel? 

The latest television ad on behalf on Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in the contentious Mississippi Senate runoff features McDaniel speaking next to what appears to be the Confederate battle flag for several seconds. In the ad, paid for the Senate Conservatives Fund, McDaniel is speaking next to the Mississippi state flag which features the Confederate flag in its upper left-hand corner.  However, the way the flag is draped, it resembles the banner carried into battle by the Army of Northern Virginia that was later adopted by the Ku Klux Klan as a symbol of racism.

McDaniel who is favored in the June 24 runoff over six-term incumbent Senator Thad Cochran has been linked to more unsavory elements in the Magnolia State’s troubled past before. He has accepted $800 in donationsfrom a former lawyer for Sam Bowers, the imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and has spoken to neo-Confederate groups. While the ad is not paid for or connected to the McDaniel campaign, the imagery does serve as a subtle signal to certain voters. The Senate Conservatives Fund did not return a request for comment. In contrast, an ad run by the Citizens United superPAC, on McDaniel’s behalf, featuring Rick Santorum, has innumerable American flags.

Ads aired on Cochran’s behalf have had their share of problems as well.  An attack ad aired by Cochran’s campaign targeting McDaniel for comments that he made while a talk radio host, features a typo with the word “mamacita” misspelled as “mamasita.” 

But, with Cochran supporters now reportedly reaching out to African American Democrats in a last ditch attempt to hold McDaniel off (apparently including a political consultant named James  “Scooby Doo” Warren), the pro-McDaniel ad shows an increasingly racialized Senate race and is yet another sign of an ugly campaign getting even uglier.