Hurricane forces Trump to cancel Mississippi visit

United States President Donald Trump with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her family.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An official with President Donald Trump's campaign says they are canceling a trip to Mississippi because Hurricane Florence is approaching the southeastern coast of the U.S. Michael Glassner, Chief Operating Officer of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., announced the news Monday. The Trump campaign said last week that he would hold a “Make America Great Again” rally this Friday in Jackson, and that he would speak there for a Republican senator he has already endorsed. Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to serve temporarily when longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran resigned in April. She faces three challengers in a nominally nonpartisan November special election, and the winner will serve the final two years of the six-year term started by Cochran. The Mississippi race could be important as Republicans try to maintain their slim majority in the Senate. It would have been 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. Trump endorsed McDaniel in the 2014 primary, and McDaniel had been jockeying for Trump's support again this year. 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.

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