Robert Foster, a Republican candidate for governor in Mississippi is defending himself after he reportedly denied access to a female reporter simply because she's a woman.
Writing in Mississipi Today, reporter Larrison Campbell claims that she was denied access to a campaign trip with Foster, as part of a series that the paper has done on candidates because she is female.
In a column for the publication, Campbell said:
In two phone calls this week, Colton Robison, Foster’s campaign director, said a male colleague would need to accompany this reporter on an upcoming 15-hour campaign trip because they believed the optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair.
Campbell also added that the Foster campaign asked for a 'weird request' for a male colleague to come along with her on the trip, which both she and her editor agreed would be sexist, reports the Daily Dot.
He reiterated that the campaign wouldn't agree unless a male colleague was present, despite the fact Campbell said she'd wear a Mississipi Today press badge at all times.
In a tweet, Foster repeated his claim, saying that he wanted to follow the 'Billy Graham Rule', echoing Vice President Mike Pence's decision to not eat alone with a woman unless it is his wife.
Taking to Twitter, Foster wrote:
Before our decision to run, my wife and I made a commitment to follow the “Billy Graham Rule”, which is to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise our marriage.
I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife.
Before our decision to run, my wife and I made a commitment to follow the “Billy Graham Rule”, which is to avoid an… https://t.co/Jkrlcbt24n
A male reporter from Mississipi Today, Adam Ganucheau, was granted permission to ride along with two other candidates, Bill Waller, a former state supreme court chief justice, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, reports the Wrap.
Campbell has interviewed Foster on numerous occasions, whose platform is to the right of his Republican rivals. In an email to the Wrap, Foster again defended his decision to deny Campbell access:
We don’t mind granting Ms. Campbell an interview. We just want it to be in an appropriate and professional setting that wouldn’t provide opportunities for us to be alone.
Ganucheau also weighed into the debate. Taking to Twitter, he wrote:
The great irony here: Larrison broke the news of Foster’s candidacy.
Larrison broke the news that he was offered $1M to drop out. Larrison drove to his hometown for his announcement.
Robert Foster arguably isn’t where he is in this race without [her] coverage.
The great irony here: Larrison broke the news of Foster's candidacy. Larrison broke the news that he was offered $1… https://t.co/CX0R6LlqPg