Another Republican running for governor in Mississippi said he won’t take a meeting alone with a woman who is not his wife, even in a professional context. Last week, fellow candidate state Rep. Robert Foster refused to be interviewed by a female journalist unless she was accompanied by a male colleague.
Former state Chief Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr., 67, told “Mississippi Today” Monday that he follows the “Billy Graham rule,” which dictates a man avoids being alone with a woman who is not his wife.
“I just think it’s common sense,” he said. “I just think in this day and time, appearances are important and transparency’s important, and people need to have the comfort of what’s going on in government between employees and people. And there’s a lot of social issues out there about that.”
“My goal is to not make it an issue so that everyone’s comfortable with the surroundings and we can go about our business,” he added.
Waller said that he was never alone with any of his female colleagues in his 22 years on the state Supreme Court.
Last week, Mississippi Today journalist Larrison Campbell said she requested to accompany candidate Robert Foster on a 15-hour “ride along” campaign trip ahead of the August 6 primary, but was denied because she is a woman.
“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 tweeted.
It’s the same “rule” brought into the spotlight by Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he would not eat alone with any woman who is not his wife. It’s named after the famed evangelist who used the rule to avoid sexual temptation in both personal and professional settings.
According to the Associated Press, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has raised the most money in the governor’s race. “We’re not going to engage with a statement on the whole Billy Graham thing,” his campaign spokesman, Parker Briden said in response to questions Tuesday.
Waller did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
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