September 8, 2018 10:03:53 PM
JACKSON -- President Donald Trump is traveling to Mississippi next week for a rally for his own 2020 re-election, and will campaign for an appointed Republican U.S. senator who is running to finish a six-year term.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith faces three challengers in a nominally nonpartisan special election in November and the winner will serve the final two years of a term started by Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. The Trump campaign announced Friday that he'll appear at a "Make America Great Again" rally Sept. 14 in Jackson. It is one of several stops he's making to support Republican candidates as Republicans try to maintain their slim Senate majority.
"With only 60 days from now until Election Day, President Trump looks forward to visiting the great State of Mississippi to urge Mississippians to get out and vote for Cindy Hyde-Smith in November," Michael Glassner, CEO of Trump for President Inc., said in a news release.
It will be Trump's fourth appearance in Mississippi since his 2016 campaign.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith, the second-term state agriculture commissioner, to temporarily succeed 80-year-old Cochran when the longtime lawmaker resigned amid health concerns in April.
Trump won Mississippi with 58 percent of the vote in 2016, and Bryant is an outspoken supporter of the president. Trump tweeted his "complete and total Endorsement" of Hyde-Smith on Aug. 23, saying: "We need Cindy to win in Mississippi!"
Hyde-Smith said Friday on Twitter that she is "thrilled" Trump will campaign for her in the state.
"I have backed the president's agenda 100 percent," she said.
Mississippi special election ballots don't list parties, but candidates tell voters their affiliation. If no candidate receives a majority in the Nov. 6 election, the top two advance to a Nov. 27 runoff.
Hyde-Smith is challenged by tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost a bitter 2014 Republican primary runoff to Cochran; Democrat Mike Espy, who in 1986 became the first African-American to win a U.S. House seat from Mississippi since Reconstruction and in 1993 was named President Bill Clinton's first agriculture secretary; and Democrat Tobey Bartee, a former military intelligence officer who is running a low-budget campaign.
McDaniel told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he thinks the president is backing Hyde-Smith because of pressure from the Senate Republican leader.
"Mitch McConnell is forcing Trump to play the Washington game," McDaniel said.
Trump endorsed McDaniel in the 2014 primary, and McDaniel had been jockeying for Trump's support again this year.