A state senator from Mississippi known for pushing people’s buttons is doing it again – but for comments he made about seven years ago.
Chris McDaniel, who is running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican primary for the congressional seat, is making headlines because of a 10-minute clip from a radio broadcast, reported by The Wall Street Journal, in which he quipped that everyone should go to Mexico because “a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico.”
McDaniel, who is considered a formidable contender – though polls show Cochran enjoying a strong lead over him – also expressed his fondness for the term “Mamacita,” saying that he did not really know its meaning, but liked the sound of it.
He asked someone in the studio to tell him how to say “Do you have a sister?”
Then he answered his own question, saying: “What about Mamacita?”
“Mamacita works,” McDaniel said, “I’m an English-speaking Anglo. I have no idea what it means, actually, but I’ve said it a few times, just for, you know, fun. And I think it basically means, ‘Hey, hot mama.’ Or, you know, ‘You’re a fine looking young thing.’”
McDaniel’s comments come at a time when the national Republican party has been trying to improve its image among Latinos, other minority groups and women.
After former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s bruising loss in 2012, and the part that Latinos – who gave 70 percent of their votes to President Obama – were perceived to have played in that defeat, the Republican National Committee focused its efforts on changing the view of the party as one that is insensitive to Latinos.
The Wall Street Journal noted that despite McDaniel’s comments, the Republican party pretty much has a lock on elections in the district where he is running.
In 2010, the Democratic candidate, former Rep. Travis Childers, lost his congressional seat by a double-digit margin, the newspaper said.
A recent poll by the Republican firm Harper Polling show Cochran with 52 percent support, compared with McDaniel's 35 percent among Republicans who say they're likely to vote in the June primary.
Though Cochran's lead is solid, McDaniel did improve significantly over a December poll, when the incumbent was leading him by 24 points, according to Politico.
McDaniel still is a favorite among Tea Party voters, however, among whom he leads over Cochran by 18 points.