TUPELO, Miss. — The two front-runners for Mississippi governor both say they're happy to have the president visit Tupelo on Friday, though they had different reactions to the threat of impeachment for Donald Trump.
Trump is in Tupelo to support Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' bid for governor.
It’s hard to ignore the impeachment inquiry surrounding the president right now, though his supporters in Mississippi say they aren't focused on it.
"I think the impeachment should not be," said one supporter at Friday's rally. "I think if people would support him like they’ve tried to hurt him, this country would be a lot better off."
This is the closest governor’s race Mississippi has seen in years, with Reeves just 3 percentage points ahead of Democratic opponent Jim Hood, according to a survey by Mason Dixon polling.
The impeachment investigation could play a key role. According to a survey by Mason Dixon polling, 56% of Mississippians are against impeaching the president and removing him from office.
"I can’t understand why the liberal Democrats would go after President Trump the way they have," Reeves said.
Reeves is one of them, but Hood, the state's attorney general, declined to give his opinion.
"That's an issue that I can't do anything about," Hood said.
The Reeves campaign criticized Hood’s response, calling him a coward for not taking a side.
But Hood says he’s not worried about how his neutral stance will play with voters, claiming he’s focused on Mississippi issues.
"I don't know what the pundits will say about it. I just know that I am fighting for things that I can do something about," Hood said.
President Trump is accused of abusing his power by allegedly pressuring a foreign leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who could be Mr. Trump’s challenger in the 2020 election.
Reeves isn’t buying the accusations, while Hood says it’s up to folks in Washington to sort out the truth.
"I can't do anything about the swamp the president is trying to drain up in Washington, all that bickering going on, but I can drain the swamp that Tate Reeves has created here in Mississippi," Hood said. "He's transactional. Every bill he's passed, every bill he's killed, every contractor he's entered into, he's gotten a campaign contribution."
But Reeves fired back, making claims about Hood’s own campaign contributions.
"Jim Hood has accepted millions of dollars from the very trial lawyers that are funding his campaign," Reeves said.
The tight polling gap between the two candidates is impressive, considering the state hasn’t had a Democratic governor in more than a decade.
"There are so many Republicans who encouraged me to run, and now they're voting for me, and they're stepping outside their comfort zone," Hood said.
The Trump rally in Tupelo begins at 7 p.m.