GOP candidate: 'I just think it's common sense' to refuse to meet with women


Bill Waller Jr. becomes the second Republican candidate for governor in Mississippi to refuse to meet alone with women.

Bill Waller Jr. became the second Republican gubernatorial candidate in Mississippi to admit he follows a profoundly misogynistic rule where he refuses to meet alone with women.

"I just think that's common sense," Waller told Mississippi Today's Larrison Campbell.

"In this day and time, appearances are important," Waller said. In what seems to be a reference to the #MeToo movement, Waller says that "there's a lot of social issues out there about that." He claims his goal is "to make everyone comfortable."

Waller follows what is known as the "Billy Graham rule" or the "Mike Pence rule" where men refuse to meet or dine alone with women who are not their wives. Waller, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is presumably fine meeting alone with men, but claims the practice of denying women an audience with a powerful man is "respectful to his wife."

Employment lawyer Joanna Grossman told Vox in 2017 that such a rule "is clearly illegal when practiced by a boss in an employment setting, and deeply damaging to women's employment opportunities."

"Women have been shut out of equal employment opportunity for all of history," Grossman added. "It's long past time the doors to power and opportunity were opened, whether after hours, on a trip, or, gasp, at a working dinner with a male boss."

Another Republican vying for the nomination in Mississippi, state Rep. Robert Foster, made headlines when he refused to allow the same reporter, Larrison Campbell, to travel with him unless she was accompanied by a man. Foster said he was afraid that someone would photograph him with a reporter, which would somehow be catastrophic for his campaign.

"Perception is everything," Foster said. He invoked the same rule and said he and his wife follow it to "avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage."

Both Foster and Waller are running in the primary as underdogs against Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. It is unclear if openly campaigning on misogyny will help either of the two underdogs when the three candidates face off on Aug. 6.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.