Second Mississippi GOP gubernatorial candidate refuses to be alone with women who aren't his wife: 'Appearances are important'

A second GOP gubernatorial candidate in Mississippi says he won’t meet alone with a woman because “appearances are important.”

“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,” former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. told Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell in a video tweeted Monday. “I just think it’s common sense.” 

Waller’s campaign previously said it was “standard practice to always have a member of the staff present when speaking to the press” and later told the publication that he follows the “Billy Graham rule,” a practice named after a prominent evangelist that encourages men to avoid spending time alone with women other than their wives.


Last week, Campbell was attempting to shadow state Rep. Robert Foster, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, but her ride-along request was denied because of her gender.

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Foster’s campaign manager told Campbell that a “male colleague would need to accompany her on an upcoming 15-hour campaign trip” because the “optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair,” she wrote.

Foster told The Hill that, before deciding to run, he and his wife also committed to following the “Billy Graham rule” to “avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage.”

“I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these same views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife, character, and our Christian faith,” Foster said. “We don’t mind granting Ms. Campbell an interview. We just want it to be in an appropriate and professional setting that wouldn’t provide opportunities for us to be alone.”

Foster later doubled down on his remarks, saying “in my truck, we go by my rules. And that’s my rule.”

The third GOP candidate, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, didn’t comment on whether he had a similar rule, telling The Associated Press that “we’re not going to engage with a statement on the whole Billy Graham thing.”

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