Palin backs McDaniel as he seeks to unseat Cochran

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Palin backs McDaniel as he seeks to unseat Cochran
ELLISVILLE, MS - JUNE 24: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel talks with members of the media after casting his ballot at the George Harrison Building on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is battling against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ELLISVILLE, MS - JUNE 24: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (C) casts his ballot as his son Cambridge (L) looks on at the George Harrison Building on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is battling against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ELLISVILLE, MS - JUNE 24: (L-R) Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel, Cambridge McDaniel, Jill McDaniel and Chamberlain McDaniel leave the George Harrison Building after voting on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is battling against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ELLISVILLE, MS - JUNE 24: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) and his wife Jill McDaniel (L) prepare to cast their ballots at the George Harrison Building on June 24, 2014 in Ellisville, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is battling against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel looks on during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel speaks during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel gestures as he gets on his campaign bus after a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) greets young supporters during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel speaks during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Supporters of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel hold signs and flags along Lakeland Drive before the start of a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) greets young supporters during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel waves from his campaign bus as he arrives at a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel hugs a young supporter during a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel waves as he gets on his campaign bus after a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FLOWOOD, MS - JUNE 23: Supporters of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel hold signs and flags along Lakeland Drive before the start of a campaign rally on June 23, 2014 in Flowood, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles against incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (C)greets patrons at Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel looks on while visiting patrons at Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) talks with supporters outside of Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel talks with a patron at Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) has his picture taken with supporters outside of Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel points to a supporter after visiting patrons at Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel prepare to leave Jean's Restaurant after visiting patrons on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MERIDIAN, MS - JUNE 23: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) greets a supporter outside of Jean's Restaurant on June 23, 2014 in Meridian, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen Chris McDaniel is campaigning througout the state as he battles incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a tight race against. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JACKSON, MS - JUNE 23: A young supporter of U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) waves American flags during a campaign rally at Mississippi War Memorial Building on June 23, 2014 in Jackson, Mississippi. With one day to go before the Mississippi senate runoff election, U.S. Sen John McCain (R-AZ) joined senate incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) as he campaigns in a tight race against Tea Party-backed republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Supporters of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel hold signs during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (C) talks with supporters during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) greets a young supporter during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) greets game show host Chuck Woolery during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) greets game show host Chuck Woolery (C) during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) looks on during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel looks on during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (C) greets supporters during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) embraces his family, wife Jill McDaniel (L) and sons Cambridge and Chamberlain, during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (L) speaks during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BILOXI, MS - JUNE 22: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) greets a supporter during a Tea Party Express campaign event at outside of a Hobby Lobby store on June 22, 2014 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin appears at a rally for U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin appears at a rally for U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin shakes hands with some fans after appearing at a rally for U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel addresses a rally where he received support from Sarah Palin Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel addresses a rally where he received support from Sarah Palin Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel addresses a rally where he received support from Sarah Palin Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin shakes hands with some fans after appearing at a rally for U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel Friday, May 30, 2014 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. McDaniel is challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. (AP Photo/George Clark)
Next time @SenMikeLee, @tedcruz, & @DrRandPaul stand & fight in the senate, a son of Mississippi will stand w them. http://t.co/DM10E7RyRT
@SarahPalinUSA: "The eyes of the world are on Mississippi." http://t.co/Ew50n0klmh
.@SarahPalinUSA stopped by Ellisville, Mississippi to fight with us for liberty. http://t.co/ewqrnYOQyb
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ELLISVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Sarah Palin told a friendly audience Friday that Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel would be an uncompromising opponent of debt and President Barack Obama, insisting that's the real issue in a race overshadowed by the arrests of four McDaniel supporters in a bizarre plot against six-term Sen. Thad Cochran.

"Those are distractions to take your eye off the ball," Palin told the crowd at Jones County Junior college in McDaniel's hometown, ahead of Tuesday's GOP Senate primary.

"Chris McDaniel knows that the status quo has got to go," Palin said, taking aim at Cochran. "If we are going to get America back on the right track, it's insane to assume we will get any different results from what we have been seeing by re-electing the same old guard that's been doing the same old thing... going along with Barack Obama's failed policies that have dug us so deep into debt."

McDaniel is trying to change the subject from the arrests of four of his supporters in a nursing home scandal that has eclipsed the contest. Those arrested are charged with conspiracy to illegally photograph Cochran's bedridden wife, Rose Cochran, in a nursing home. Mrs. Cochran has been institutionalized since 2001, has lost her ability to speak and is in hospice care, according to her family.

McDaniel and his supporters have raised questions about whether it's appropriate for a female aide to accompany Cochran on taxpayer-funded overseas trips. Cochran's campaign has denied any implication of wrongdoing. McDaniel says he had nothing to do with the nursing home plot.

Mississippi is central to the Republicans' goal of gaining the six seats required to take control of the Senate after the November elections. After a string of losses by tea party candidates in Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, McDaniel is seen by conservatives as perhaps their best chance to oust a GOP incumbent whom and run the candidate they prefer. But the GOP establishment and its allies have showered money on incumbents like Cochran, who has a chance to become Senate Appropriations Committee chairman if he's elected to a seventh term.

But in Mississippi, the story line has jutted into bizarre territory.

The four men charged in the photo incident are McDaniel supporters. One of them, attorney Mark Mayfield of Ridgeland, is a Central Mississippi Tea Party board member who has raised campaign cash for McDaniel. Another, John Mary of Hattiesburg, took over hosting a conservative talk radio show after McDaniel left that job before being elected to the state Senate. The blogger, Clayton Kelly of Pearl, has pro-McDaniel photos on his Facebook page and anti-Cochran statements on his blog. Sager's Facebook page includes an announcement he shared for a McDaniel campaign event.

Moving on to the looming primary, McDaniel called on his supporters Friday to rally their neighbors and continue Mississippi's tradition of defiance.

"Every so often, we're just stubborn enough to look at Washington, D.C., and say 'Leave us alone,' " McDaniel said. He said he respects Cochran, but also said "career politicians are killing this country" and closed by telling the crowd "Let's send him home."

Most of Mississippi's GOP establishment has lined up behind Cochran. Gov. Phil Bryant released a radio ad reiterating support for Cochran Friday.

McDaniel is being supported by tea party groups inside and outside the state. Former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum also has endorsed the challenger.

Even some McDaniel supporters said Palin may not make much difference in the race, where voters have been bombarded with ads for months.

"People have already made up their minds," said Sarah Simmons of Gulfport, who traveled nearly two hours to the rally. "If you don't know where you stand now, you're way too late in the game."
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