Foster defends decision to refuse female reporter access to campaign

Vow with wife prevents him from being alone with a woman

Foster defends decision to refuse female reporter access to campaign
Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster doubled down on decision to deny a female reporter access to his campaign unless she had a male with her. He said it was based on his religious through what is called "The Billy Graham Rule".

DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (WLOX) - Robert Foster may be getting hammered by some with accusations of sexism throughout the country, but on Thursday, he found a receptive crowd of women.

“I don’t blame Mr. and Mrs. Foster for protecting themselves according to their beliefs,” said Starr Chapman, president of the Hancock County Republican Women. “And you have to operate on your deepest convictions and your beliefs.”

Foster’s decision went viral after a story from Larrison Campbell, a politics reporter from Mississippi Today, who asked to shadow Foster during the campaign trail.

He refused unless a male colleague would accompany her.

“It’s a principal that I've always stood by in business and personal life,” Foster said. “It’s a vow that I took with my wife. We made an agreement that I would not be alone or put myself in a position to be alone with another woman and she would not do the same with a man.”

While Campbell is calling the behavior sexist, Foster said it has nothing to do with that. It is all about optics.

“Even the view that you’re doing something inappropriate is all that matters a lot of time to the public,” he added.

Chapman said the only thing to shame is the situation.

“I think it’s a terrible thing that we’ve come to this situation where a male cannot feel he can be alone with a female without the threat of being accused of something that was improper,” she said.

Foster said it’s made worse by vulture politics.

“I always have to be aware that there is a political adversary out there that is looking for any opportunity to get a single picture or a single comment that they twist into a negative light,” he said. “And by the time people have figured out the truth behind that it’s too late.”

New club member Vanessa Benson said she understands both sides and is all for finding a better way.

“I know that the times we live in are a lot different than they used to be,” she said. “But I just wish everybody would work together to achieve the same goals, even different goals.”

Primaries for the 2019 statewide elections will be held Aug. 6.

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