The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Tea Party activist Robert Peters shows yard signs supporting senatorial candidate Chris McDaniel in Vicksburg, Mississippi March 19, 2014. The stars appear to have aligned for Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is waging a primary battle against Thad Cochran, who is seeking his seventh six-year term in the Senate. Polls show a close race two months before the June 3 Republican primary, and an army of Tea Party activists are canvassing Mississippi voters for McDaniel. Picture taken March 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Nick Carey  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3JJQM Tea Party activist Robert Peters shows yard signs supporting senatorial candidate Chris McDaniel in Vicksburg, Mississippi March 19, 2014. The stars appear to have aligned for Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is waging a primary battle against Thad Cochran, who is seeking his seventh six-year term in the Senate. Polls show a close race two months before the June 3 Republican primary, and an army of Tea Party activists are canvassing Mississippi voters for McDaniel. Picture taken March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Nick Carey (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3JJQM  

Thad Cochran’s Personal Life: Off Limits, Or Fair Game?

A Mississippi conservative activist and blogger named Clayton Kelly is in hot water for allegedly “sneaking into a nursing home where U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife is bedridden and photographing her, then posting the image in a video political ‘hit piece’ on the internet.”

This, I think we’d agree, is pretty sleazy stuff. But of all the ways to work against an incumbent, why would he do this? I mean, there must be some back story — some reason that these pictures would fit some larger narrative, right?

RedState’s Erick Erickson puts it in context:

It is an open secret in Mississippi that Thad Cochran’s wife is in a nursing home. I have known it for some time, which is why RedState has not pushed the story about Cochran’s relationship with Kay Webber. Cochran lives with Mrs. Webber, she travels with him socially and professionally, etc. In fact, if you google for Thad Cochran and his wife, the images that come up are of Thad Cochran and Mrs. Webber.

It is a tragic story, given Mrs. Cochran’s health. She suffers from dementia and has been confined to a nursing home for years. In the past two weeks though, a number of bloggers have tried to raise the red flag on Thad Cochran’s relationship with Mrs. Webber since they live together and she is also on his payroll. We have done our best to avoid delving into this story other than acknowledging its existence. It is, again, a tragic situation.

I suppose there’s no sense avoiding it now? Indeed, conservative outlets have been hinting at this recently.

For example, you can see this line of attack developing in this Breitbart piece:

Cochran is married to Rose Cochran, who resides at a retirement home in Madison, MS. According to the Madison County Journal, she suffers from severe dementia. A Dec. 18, 2002 article reported that Rose Cochran had been a resident of St. Catherine’s Village in Madison for two years.

When asked, Russell said any questions about a personal relationship between Cochran and Webber is “silly gossip.”

These types of stories rarely just happen organically. My guess is this is less the work of an intrepid reporter, and more the work of someone pushing opposition research against Cochran.

That’s not to say Chris McDaniel’s campaign ordered the hit, or even knew about it, until after the fact. It’s entirely possible Kelly was freelancing the nursing home part.

But this context explains the political environment — and what Kelly was at least trying to accomplish.

And, in fact, he actually might have met his objective.