July 31, 2014 9:54:49 AM
PHILADELPHIA -- Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves emphasized his conservative credentials Wednesday during the first day of political speaking at the Neshoba County Fair.
Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, who is running for a fourth term in 2015, criticized political bloggers as "the loudest mouths out there" in this year's U.S. Senate race in Mississippi. He also said the state needs to put more emphasis on improving public education.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican who's seeking a third term next year, said he has tried to protect consumers by pushing for stricter building codes.
Second-term State Auditor Stacey Pickering, a Republican who hasn't announced his plans for 2015, said that in the past year his office has recovered more than $1.5 million of misspent public money.
Today's schedule includes back-to-back speeches by the Democratic nominee for Senate, former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers; and six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. They are followed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.
The fair, just south of Philadelphia in east-central Mississippi, is a 10-day event that draws tens of thousands of people. Many stay overnight in two- or three-story cabins that have been owned by the same families for generations. The late summer heat and humidity are oppressive most years, but Wednesday was balmy with low humidity and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s.
Supporters of the lieutenant governor wore white T-shirt with a small logo of a cartoon potato wearing a mask and holding a sign that said: "I'm a Tater Tot," a reference to a nickname jokingly bestowed on Reeves' staffers at the Capitol.
Reeves, who is expected to seek a second term next year, did not mention tax cuts during his speech but told reporters afterward that he'd like to push some sort of relief for taxpayers next year. During the speech, he told hundreds of people at that he has worked to balance the state budget and limit long-term debt.
He also said he has supported gun rights and pushed for abortion restrictions, including a 2012 law that was blocked Tuesday by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The law required physicians at Mississippi's lone abortion clinic to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. Hospitals didn't respond to the out-of-state physicians' applications for privileges.
The appeals court said the law was unconstitutional because it could have closed the clinic and made abortion unavailable in Mississippi. In its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court established a nationwide right to abortion.
"Our goal is to make Mississippi the safest place in America for the unborn," Reeves said.
Hood, who's supporting Childers for Senate, said he'd like to a higher level of political discourse after a hard-fought Republican primary for Senate. State Sen. Chris McDaniel still hasn't conceded to Cochran more than a month after Cochran won the June 24 GOP primary runoff. Hood said a blogger has irresponsibly posted unsubstantiated claims that vote buying occurred, and he said the Internet gives those claims a wide audience.
"In the old days, it was the loudmouth in the coffee shop that you kind of laughed at, was kind of dumb, thought they knew everything. That's unfortunately what we're dealing with now with our public discourse," Hood said.
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