A Mississippi Republican candidate criticized for refusing to be alone with a female reporter due to his following of the “Billy Graham rule” has launched a bumper sticker campaign defending his decision.
Robert Foster, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the upcoming gubernatorial election, is selling bumper stickers with the phrase “My Truck. My Rules.”
The sticker campaign was launched last week, according to local news outlet WXXV News 25, with the stickers being offered in return for a donation of at least $5.00.
Foster garnered national attention when he told reporter Larrison Campbell of Mississippi Today that she needed a male colleague to accompany her if she wanted to go with Foster on a 15-hour “ride-along” as part of his campaign.
Foster cited the rule, made famous by notable evangelist Billy Graham, in which a man avoids being alone with a woman who is not his wife, even for professional reasons.
Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse wrote an opinion piece in which she claimed Foster demeaned Campbell by invoking the rule.
“They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you,” claimed Hesse.
“It’s rather like a thief sanctimoniously announcing that he brings a parole officer every time he goes to the bank to make sure he doesn’t rob it. Good for you, dude, for knowing your own limitations — but it doesn’t make you better than the rest of us, who manage to regularly not steal things even when we’re completely alone.”
For his part, Foster told CNN that while Campbell had interviewed him in the past and that he trusted her and himself, he still wanted to be above reproach.
“I trust myself completely. But I don’t trust the perception that the world puts on people when they see things and they don’t ask the questions and they don’t look to find out the truth,” argued Foster.
“Perception is a reality in this world and I don’t want to give anybody the opinion that I am doing something that I should not be doing.”
The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and current head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, defended Foster.
“Some critics are upset and are calling the ‘Billy Graham Rule’ sexist, but I believe it’s just common sense, and I appreciate Robert Foster’s desire to honor his wife,” said Graham.