BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's leading opponent said Wednesday it was inappropriate for the Democratic senator to help a Louisiana State University fan drink upside-down from a beer keg before a recent game.
Republican Bill Cassidy, who poses a stiff challenge to Landrieu in the November election, said people shouldn't applaud the widely circulated photo of the Democratic senator holding a spigot to pour beer into a man's mouth. Citing his work as a doctor and the fact he's a parent, the GOP congressman said "keg stands" and other binge-drinking activities should be discouraged.
"Binge-drinking is associated with DWIs, with traffic facilities, with death on campuses, with rape of young women, with fistfights," Cassidy said at an event Wednesday. "It's not something to celebrate."
Landrieu, in a tight race for a fourth term, has shrugged off criticism over the keg stand assist, mostly from social media and from outside the state. She suggested her critics "need to get a sense of humor." She said such tailgate antics are "just the way we roll" in Louisiana.
Far from being considered a scandal in a party-loving Louisiana, Landrieu's keg stand assist mostly has been laughed about and highlighted as evidence of her home-state sensibilities. Cassidy has criticized her for being out of touch with her constituents.
Republicans had largely skipped weighing in on the photo, until Cassidy's criticism Wednesday. But outside of the state, the Landrieu photo drew disapproval as encouraging binge-drinking on college campuses, even though the man upside down guzzling beer was no longer a student.
"Binge drinking and alcohol abuse is a very serious issue, and for Sen. Landrieu to be making light of it and blowing it off for political reasons is irresponsible," said Mary Bono, a Republican and former member of Congress who advocates for drug abuse prevention.
The keg stand assist came as Landrieu campaigned Saturday on the LSU campus before the Tigers' game against Mississippi State University. It was chronicled by a reporter from Mother Jones magazine who watched the incumbent senator, decked out in LSU purple, hold the spigot before a cheering crowd.
"The gentleman that did that is 28 years old, and he has also graduated. He has a master's in business, so I think he can make decisions for himself," Landrieu said.