A ruckus interrupted Governor Haley R. Barbour’s Neshoba County Fair speech Thursday. Sitting directly in front of the governor on the front row of the audience were Terry Cassreino, communications director for the Mississippi Democratic Party; Representative George Flaggs (D-Vicksburg); House Speaker Billy McCoy (D-Rienzi); reporter Megan West from WAPT in Jackson; and a dark haired lady with a Joel Gill button on her shirt. Before Barbour’s speech, she chatted with her neighbors on the bench. But after Representative Scott C. Bounds (D-Philadelphia) introduced Barbour, the lady began to scream, “Adrienne Klasky – Adrienne Klasky – Adrienne Klasky” without ceasing. Barbour spoke over her for a while, then commented that one of the beauties of America is the freedom of speech that allows the lady to express her disagreement with something he had done. Barbour continued speaking, she continued screaming, and eventually security escorted her out of the pavilion. She was allowed to return later in the speech.
Adrienne Klasky was the ex-wife of Michael David Graham who stalked and killed her 19 years ago and has been serving a life sentence in prison and working as a trusty at the Governor’s Mansion. Barbour recently indefinitely suspended Graham’s sentence pending further good behavior. Klasky was from a prominent family in Pascagoula and Barbour’s decision has been very negatively received on the Gulf Coast.
After the disruption, Barbour said, “the thing about free speech is it cuts both ways” and continued his address. He mentioned his trophy wife Marsha could not make it this year because she is recovering from a thyroid surgery. He said while in recovery she has enjoyed laughing at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s commercials for Ronnie Musgrove claiming he was a fiscally conservative governor. Barbour said when Governor Kirk Fordice left office, the state treasury was in its best condition in history and in four years, Musgrove “squandered it all” and left the state in a $720 million budget shortfall. Barbour also took a shot at Musgrove’s record of job losses.
Yesterday, after both Musgrove and Wicker spoke, reporters quizzed Musgrove about his job loss record and Musgrove said that everyone is talking about forty thousand jobs lost but they “never talk about all the jobs I created.” The reporters seemed puzzled and asked if Musgrove’s opponents were not talking net numbers and Musgrove said he didn’t think so, he had not heard them claim they were net numbers. Today, Barbour made it clear those were nearly forty thousand net jobs lost under the four years of the Musgrove administration.
Barbour was not the only person taking shots at Musgrove. Yesterday State Auditor Stacey Pickering and today State Treasurer Tate Reeves both praised Wicker and took shots at Musgrove. Reeves dedicated a substantial portion of his speech to the failures of Musgrove’s fiscal policies.
Barbour moved from Musgrove to other national politics. “I wish John McCain were here” he said to thunderous applause. McCain must be the most popular politician not at the Neshoba County Fair. Every speaker who invoked his name received a louder and more energetic response than to anything else. A new Rasmussen Reports poll released yesterday says McCain “has nearly doubled his lead over Barack Obama in Mississippi” and “now leads his Democratic opponent by 11 points 52% to 41%, after maintaining a 6-point lead for the previous two months.”
Barbour continued, “Frankly I wish Senator Obama were here, too, because I believe the more people learn about Obama’s record, the better McCain is going to do.” Barbour praised Obama as a great performer saying, “He could sell Chevrolets to a Ford dealer.” Barbour said Obama and his liberal Democrat colleagues have said no to drilling off-shore; no to drilling in ANWR; no to drilling on federal land in the Rockies; no to more refineries; no to more nuclear plants; no to increased domestic oil production and “out of that series of No’s, Obama created the slogan, ‘Yes, we can.'” Barbour later referred to the presumptive Democratic nominee as “Nobama.”