U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks with Columbus Rotary Club member Jennings Cox after a combined meeting of the Rotary and Lowndes County Republican Women. Hyde-Smith attended the meeting where she spoke about her four months so far in the Senate and her excitement at the conservative move the country has taken since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff
August 8, 2018 10:59:55 AM
Since Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith took office four months ago, she said she has witnessed an "amazing time in our country."
The former Mississippi agriculture and commerce commissioner was appointed to the Senate by Governor Phil Bryant when former Sen. Thad Cochran stepped down in April for health reasons. Hyde-Smith stopped in Columbus Tuesday for a combined meeting of the Columbus Rotary and the Lowndes County Republican Women at Lion Hills, where she assured her audience good things are happening in Washington, D.C.
The four-month senator has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and spent about 30 minutes Tuesday telling her audience how pleased she is with the direction the president is taking the country.
"You just look at the things that are happening in our lifetime that we didn't really think would ever happen," Hyde-Smith said. "Look at the tax rollback, the corporate tax that went from 35 percent to 21 percent, and what a difference that has made in our entire country."
She also referenced the U.S. embassy in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and said she was particularly happy with Trump's choice of supreme court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who may take the place of outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy if the Senate confirms him.
"I cannot tell you how pleased I am in the direction we're going right now, because that, as you know, is generational and will guide this country for years to come," Hyde-Smith said. "And we're making sure we have the votes to get him confirmed."
Hyde-Smith also addressed agriculture, which she called her "wheelhouse." She highlighted passing the federal agriculture bill, which she'd worked on from afar as Mississippi agriculture commissioner and chairman of the state Senate's agriculture committee.
She also touched on how Trump's escalating trade rhetoric with long-time trading partner China may affect soybean farmers in Mississippi. Hyde-Smith and six other senators were invited to the White House for an hour-long meeting with the president to talk about tariffs and trade.
"He said, 'Cindy, it's going to be turbulence in the beginning for a short period of time. After that, they're going to have a better deal,'" Hyde-Smith recalled. "He said, 'I am sick and tired of nobody standing up for the steel workers and the ... automobile industry, but I'm really tired of people not standing up for the farmers who are trying to feed this country.' And he's ready to do that, guys.
"We've watched the prices," she added. "Of course the soybean farmers are concerned, but as he looked at me across that table and he said, 'Have I not delivered everything I said that I was going to do?' How do you argue with that? And we do need a fair deal. China has just been taking advantage of the farmers for so long."
Though Hyde-Smith didn't go into detail, soybean prices this summer were at a 10-year low after Trump's aggressive rhetoric on trade with China resulted in China -- which purchases about 60 percent of soybeans exported from the U.S., The Dispatch previously reported -- slapping a tariff on many U.S. agricultural goods, including soybeans. The price of soybeans began creeping up again last month, which coincided with Trump announcing a $12 billion bailout for farmers affected by the trade talks.
Campaign against McDaniel
In November Hyde-Smith faces a special primary election against her challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel. In 2014, McDaniel narrowly lost the Senate race lost to Cochran.
Hyde-Smith didn't talk about the campaign during her talk with Rotarians and Republican Women, but she told The Dispatch after the meeting she plans to run a positive campaign focused on her record in the Mississippi Senate.
"We're just talking about our record in the state Senate and the accomplishments we've had," she said. "I'm just one of those ultra-conservative people and we have that great record that we can capitalize on there. We're just staying positive, staying on the high road and talking about Cindy Hyde-Smith."
The election will be Nov. 6.
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