Trump to square off with protesters in Mississippi as he returns to the campaign trail

Donald Trump midterm rally Florida
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican midterm candidates in Florida on Wednesday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Mississippi on Monday as he throws his full support behind the embattled Republican Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith.
  • Hyde-Smith is deep into a runoff race for the state’s Senate seat with her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy.
  • Hyde-Smith has been under heavy scrutiny for saying she would be in the “front row” if invited to a “public hanging.”
  • The Mississippi Rising Coalition is organising a protest on the beach opposite a venue where Trump is speaking, local media reports said.
  • The nonprofit urged activists in a Facebook event to bring their “banners, signs and voices” to the non-violent gathering.

President Donald Trump will be in Mississippi on Monday as he throws his full support behind the Republican Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith.

The Mississippi Senate race went to a runoff after neither major candidate secured the requisite 50% of votes to become the junior senator back on November 6.

The race has descended into an unexpectedly close stand-up fight, after video emerged of Hyde-Smith saying she supporting talk of a “public hanging,” in racially divided Mississippi where such language carries painful connotations.

Photos of Hyde-Smith on Facebook posing at a museum in confederate clothing have also recently courted controversy.

Trump last went on the stump for Hyde-Smith in August.

Trump has taken just a short break from his long-winding campaign trail after the end of this month’s midterm elections. The duo will hold rallies in two locations in the state on Monday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Mississippians are planning to hold their own protest event to counter the president’s visit to the state on Monday ahead of the November 27 runoff election between Hyde-Smith and her Democratic opponent Mike Espy.

According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, the Mississippi Rising Coalition (MRC) is organising The Battle of Biloxi, a protest to take place on a beach opposite the venue where Trump is planning to speak.

A nonprofit civil-rights group, the MRC, urged people in a Facebook post for the protest to bring “banners, signs and voices” to the non-violent event.

“We can not and will not let Hyde-Smith and Trump’s racist rhetoric go unanswered directly by the people, and we must not allow Hyde-Smith to represent our state any longer,” the group posted on Facebook.

The two sides are squaring off after Hyde-Smith, a former Mississippi agriculture secretary, declared at an event in Tupelo earlier this month that she would be in “the front row” at a “public hanging.”

The comments have provoked fury and condemnation as well as raising the stakes for a Senate seat in a state, which has a grim history of racism.

More lynchings – public hangings of African-Americans – took place in Mississippi than in any other state in the US from the late 1880s until the 1960s.

Hyde-Smith subsequently apologised but quickly went on the attack, accusing the Democrat, former US Congressman Mike Espy, of making political hay out of her remarks.

“My comments were taken and twisted and used as a political weapon against me by my opponent,” she said.

Espy comes with his own portmanteau of problems, as agriculture secretary in the administration of Former president Bill Clinton, Espy was made to step down following an investigation into his inappropriate acceptance of gifts.

If elected, Espy would become the first black senator from Mississippi since the reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War.

Around 37% of Mississippi’s population is African-American.

Tweeting from his Mar-a-lago estate in Florida on Sunday where he spent Thanksgiving, Trump announced his intention to travel to the state for Tuesday’s “very important election.”

“She is an outstanding person who is strong on the Border, Crime, Military, our great Vets, Healthcare & the 2nd A(mendment).” He concluded: “Needed in D.C.”

Democrats have their sails up in the south following Doug Jones’s special election victory in neighbouring Alabama in 2017, but the state largely remains a red one and despite the furore Hyde-Smith is thought to hold the advantage.