Republican candidate for Mississippi governor refuses interview to female reporter unless she was accompanied by a male colleague
Candidate Robert Foster confirmed Mississippi Today's Larrison Campbell's accusation, saying he was trying to be respectful to his wife and was following the "Billy Graham Rule."
A Republican candidate for Mississippi governor, Robert Foster, reportedly told a female journalist that he would not sit for an interview with her unless she was accompanied by a male colleague. He later claimed that he was just following "the Billy Graham Rule."
The GOP hopeful, during a radio interview on Wednesday, said: "We just wanted to keep things professional."
The female reporter, Mississippi Today's Larrison Campbell, was reportedly asking to go on a "ride along" with the candidate when his campaign director refused in his behalf, the New York Post reported.
"In two phone calls this week, Colton Robison, Foster’s campaign director, said a male colleague would need to accompany [Campbell] 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 wrote in a column on Tuesday.
“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 reportedly told Robison, to which he said: “Can’t risk it.”
Robison then told her: "Perception is everything. 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."
Foster later confirmed Campbell's claims in a tweet, saying he was trying to be respectful to his wife, and was following the "Billy Graham Rule."
"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,” Foster wrote. “I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife.”
A similar excuse was previously used by Vice President Mike Pence in 2002 when he told The Hill that he refuses to eat alone with any woman other than his wife.
Foster, in his Wednesday radio interview, said: "In our case, it was a female reporter asking to ride along, and my campaign director is in and out and gone sometimes. It’s just going to be a lot of opportunities for an awkward situation I didn’t want to put myself in.”
"There’s only one person that comes to mind more than anyone and that’s my wife. I’ve always had the same practice in business. I’m not alone with a female employee and put myself in a situation to have a ‘he said, she said moment,'" the gubernatorial candidate added.