A female reporter in Mississippi is accusing a Republican gubernatorial candidate of sexism after he refused her request to shadow him on the campaign trail.
Rep. Robert Foster’s, R-Hernando, campaign reportedly told Larrison Campbell of Mississippi Today that her presence might stoke speculation about an affair between the two.
Colton Robison, Foster’s campaign director, offered Campbell an opportunity to follow the candidate but said she would need a male colleague accompanying her, she said in an article in her paper Tuesday.
“Perception is everything,” Campbell quoted Robison as saying. “We are so close to the primary. If (trackers) were to get a picture and they put a mailer out, we wouldn’t have time to dispute it. And that’s why we have to be careful.”
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According to Campbell, the decision ultimately stemmed from her gender. “The only reason you think that people will think I’m having a (improper) relationship with your candidate is because I am a woman,” she said she told him.
Campbell reported that Robison refused her request even after she offered to wear her press badge in plain view at all times. “But Robison insisted that trackers are trying to get any footage that would make the candidate look bad,” Campbell said.
Both she and her editor “agreed the request was sexist and an unnecessary use of resources given this reporter’s experience covering Mississippi politics.”
Foster defended his decision on Twitter, citing an agreement with his wife to abide by what he called the “Billy Graham Rule.”
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“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 of our marriage,” he tweeted. “I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife.”
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During a radio interview, Foster said that he abided by the same rule in his business and that he would rather “be called names by the liberal press than to be put in a situation where it could do damage to my marriage or my family.”