A Mississippi GOP candidate for governor cites his Christian faith in banning a female reporter from covering him unless she's accompanied by a man

Robert FosterRobert FosterAP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

  • Robert Foster, a candidate for Mississippi's Republican gubernatorial nomination, is currently facing backlash for barring a female reporter from covering him on the campaign trail - unless she's accompanied by a male colleague. 
  • Larrison Campbell, a female reporter for the outlet Mississippi Today, wrote in a Tuesday column that Foster's campaign manager informed her that "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 that she and her editors were puzzled by the request given that, as an experienced reporter covering Mississippi politics, she had previously interviewed Foster on multiple occassions.
  • "Once again, the liberal left is attacking someone for their integrity, professionalism, and Christian beliefs," Foster wrote in a Wednesday tweet. "They aren't just attacking me. They are attacking the countless Mississippians who also share these values."

  • The current controversy over Foster isn't the only recent incident where a Mississippi Republican has been criticized for making offensive comments about women in the workplace.
  • In 2013, Mississippi's current Republican Governor Phil Bryant was criticized for blaming the state's poor educational metrics on women joining the workforce. 
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Robert Foster, a candidate for Mississippi's Republican gubernatorial nomination, is facing backlash for barring a female reporter from covering him on the campaign trail - unless she's accompanied by a male colleague. 

Larrison Campbell, a female reporter for the outlet Mississippi Today, wrote in a Tuesday column for the site that while other GOP gubernatorial candidates allowed the outlet to join them for a ride-along, Foster refused to allow Campbell to cover him for the day without a male colleague joining her.

In the column, Campbell wrote that Foster's campaign manager informed her in a phone call that another male reporter would need to come with her for a 15-hour reporting 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 that she and her editors were puzzled by the request given that, as an experienced reporter covering Mississippi politics, she had previously interviewed Foster on multiple occassions and even broken stories related to his campaign.

The Foster campaign emphasized they were concerned that so-called "trackers," or operatives from opposing campaigns, could take photos of Foster and Campbell alone and use the photos to suggest an improper connection between the two. 

"Perception is everything. 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," Campbell said a campaign staffer told her. 

Read more: Sheryl Sandberg says 60% of male managers are afraid to have a one-on-one meeting with a female employee

In a radio interview and on Twitter, Foster doubled down on his position despite the immediate backlash after Campbell's column.

"Once again, the liberal left is attacking someone for their integrity, professionalism, and Christian beliefs," Foster wrote in a Wednesday tweet.

"They aren't just attacking me. They are attacking the countless Mississippians who also share these values. Exactly why we need a #msgov who will protect these values," he added, charging in another tweet that the "liberal left" was shocked that "someone still values their relationship with their wife and upholds their Christian Faith" in 2019.

Current Vice President Mike Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, also said in a 2002 interview that he refuses to dine alone with a woman who isn't his wife, Karen Pence, and won't attend events where alcohol is served without her.

The current controversy over Foster isn't the only recent incident where a Mississippi Republican has been criticized for offensive comments about women in the workplace.

In 2013, Mississippi's current Republican Governor Phil Bryant sparked widespread outrage when he blamed women joining the workforce for Mississippi's substandard education system at a Washington Post event. 

"I'm going to get in trouble. You want me to tell the truth? You know, I think both parents started working," Bryant said. "The mom is in the work place."

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