President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE will hold two campaign rallies for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) the day before the runoff in Mississippi’s tight Senate race.
“Our campaign is working hard for a big election-day turnout, so the President’s visit the day before the runoff will be a good boost to make sure all conservatives know they have a very clear choice in this runoff election,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement Saturday.
Very excited @realDonaldTrump is coming back to Mississippi to support our campaign with two great events now being planned here on Monday, November 26! #MAGA #TeamCindy #Cindy2018 #MSSEN
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— Cindy Hyde-Smith (@cindyhydesmith) November 17, 2018
The race headed to a runoff after none of the candidates got a majority of the votes. Hyde-Smith will face off against Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. Agriculture secretary, in the Nov. 27 runoff.
In the first round of voting, Hyde-Smith split the Republican vote with conservative firebrand and Trump supporter Chris McDaniel, who will not appear in the runoff. Hyde-Smith got about 42 percent of the vote, while McDaniel got about 17 percent. About 41 percent of Mississippi voters supported Espy.
The dual rallies suggest Republicans are concerned the Senate seat in ruby-red Mississippi may be in jeopardy.
Recent gaffes by Hyde-Smith have Democrats hoping they could pull off an upset in the Deep South reminiscent of last year’s Alabama Senate race in which Sen. Doug Jones (D) defeated a deeply flawed candidate in Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions goes after Tuberville’s coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Sessions fires back at Trump over recusal: ‘I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did” MORE.
Hyde-Smith first faced intense backlash after she claimed she’d be “on the front row” should a supporter she was campaigning with invite her to a “public hanging.”
“In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” Hyde-Smith said.
Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings from 1882-1968, according to the NAACP.
Espy, who is running to be Mississippi’s first black senator since Reconstruction, ripped the comment as “reprehensible” and “hurtful.”
Hyde-Smith also faced criticism after video emerged of her saying “maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult” for liberal students to go vote. Her campaign dismissed that comment as a joke.
With the runoff already expected to be a low-turnout contest, the comments have energized Espy’s supporters, with Republicans hoping a presidential visit can do the same for their side. Trump won Mississippi by nearly 20 points in 2016 and remains popular there.