President Trump threw his full support behind Republican Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, ahead of her runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday. Mr. Trump held two rallies for her Monday — one in Tupelo, Mississippi, and then one 300 miles to the south in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Both rallies clocked in shorter than Mr. Trump's rallies in the lead-up to the midterm elections. At each, Mr. Trump mentioned the migrant caravan moving north through Mexico toward the U.S., and pushed for funding for a border wall. In Tupelo, Mr. Trump gave a version of his common refrain before the election that "Democrats have become the party of caravans and crime."
Mr. Trump did not mention the GE closings at either rally, and despite the massive job losses, he said in Biloxi that his administration had found the "magic wand" to bring back manufacturing.
"Under my administration we've created 600,000 brand new manufacturing jobs that people said could never come back to our country. Right? Remember the previous administration – remember the previous administration said 'oh manufacturing jobs that will never happen.' I kept saying what's he talking about? Manufacturing. We got to make things, right? They said 'manufacturing jobs would never come back. You'd need a magic wand.' Well we found the magic wand.
Mississippi voted overwhelmingly for the president in 2016. Hyde-Smith was appointed U.S. senator for the state after former Sen. Thad Cochran was forced to leave his seat due to deteriorating health. Mr. Trump mentioned the importance of the keeping the Senate majority at the Biloxi rally, saying that "Mississippi must defend our Senate Republican majority."
In Tupelo, Mr. Trump cast Espy as "far left."
"Cindy's far left opponent. He's far left. Ohh he's out there. How does he fit in with Mississippi, I mean how does he fit in?"
Mr. Trump had a couple pop culture moments at the Tupleo rally. At one point, he said people compared himself to Elvis when he was younger, which he considers a compliment. In discussing his approach to trade – which he wants to call the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the president said the U.S.M.C.A. sounds like the YMCA. "Y-M-C-A," he said, singing the tune.
Mississippi is Trump country — the state voted for Mr. Trump by 18 points. But Hyde-Smith failed to capture enough votes to fend off Espy, with a third-party candidate garnering 15 points in the Nov. 6 election.
Hyde-Smith has found herself in hot political waters,She only partly apologized after intense public pressure. But Mr. Trump has defended her, when given the chance.
"Cindy Hyde-Smith is a spectacular woman," the president told reporters last week. "She's a great senator. She came in, she's done a fantastic job in a short period of time. She made a statement which I know that she feels very badly about it, and it was just sort of said in jest, as she said. And she's a tremendous woman. And it's a shame that she has to go through this."