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8/4/2008 11:00:00 AM Email this article • Print this article
Wednesday’s main event: Wicker v. Musgrove
The main event of Wednesday’s speaking pitted former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker against each other in back to back speeches. The two men are running in a special election to fulfill the remainder of Senator Trent Lott’s unfulfilled term.
Musgrove went first and faced the cheers and jeers of an overwhelmingly pro-Wicker crowd. Musgrove had faced hostile and friendly crowds alike at the Fair in the past when he spoke as a candidate for, and while serving as, both lieutenant governor and governor. The 500-person pavilion was over occupancy with standing room only surrounding the historic structure. A few Wicker volunteers held “Democrat Three Speed Fans” with pictures of Al Gore, Musgrove and Barack Obama on one side; and pictures of Hillary Clinton, Musgrove and Obama on the other.
Early in his speech, Musgrove told the crowd “Ronald Reagan spoke from this very stage and asked if you were better off than four years ago.” Reagan did not speak from that stage, he spoke at the grandstand; and never in his speech to the Neshoba County Fair did Reagan ever ask that question.
As Musgrove began to talk about special interests in Washington DC, yells of “beef plant” and “where’s the beef?” shouted over the crowd. Musgrove responded, “We’ll get to the dirty ole tricks in just a minute.” This was not Musgrove’s first rodeo, a consummate campaigner, the pressure of his opposition seemed to spur determination rather than frustration.
Musgrove spoke of hard economic times affecting farmers in the Delta, workers in the furniture industry in northeast Mississippi, homeowners on the Gulf Coast needing multi-peril insurance, and families across Mississippi working hard to make ends meet. He said our economy is a mess and Washington has failed us. Musgrove is running an anti-Washington campaign despite the fact it is his party in power. Democrats control the House and the Senate. Democrats are the ones who are failing to accomplish what Musgrove is criticizing, and at the same time, they are seeking to elect Musgrove to keep themselves in power.
Musgrove criticized Wicker for being part of overspending in Washington DC and mentioned the Nissan Plant and teacher pay raises as his own biggest accomplishments as governor.
It seems a little incredulous for Musgrove to attack Wicker for bringing federal funding for economic development projects in Mississippi, when Musgrove claims as his own greatest accomplishment Nissan: which required over $360 million in state taxpayer funded incentives.
When Musgrove finished, rather than walking through the stage door to visit with the press, he avoided a potentially awkward handshake with his opponent by exiting off the side of the stage and sitting down in the audience directly in front of Wicker. Musgrove delayed his press appearance to coincide with Wicker’s post-speech interviews.