GEOFF PENDER: Stump speakin’ ain’t for everyone

If either Attorney General Jim Hood or Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is elected Mississippi’s next governor, it won’t be because of their public speaking, bless their hearts.

Their back-to-back stump speeches were, ostensibly, the highlight of the political speech-i-fying at the Neshoba County Fair last week, a potential preview of the 2019 gubernatorial battle. Well … they still have a good while to practice, or search for speech writers before then.

Mississippi’s top politicians and candidates have to run a gauntlet the likes of which those in most other states no longer do: giving a 10-minute, old-timey stump speech in the sweltering heat under the Founders Square pavilion at the Neshoba County Fair….

…Reeves typically stays on script, reads from prepared remarks, and it sounds like it. He’s kinda stiff and stilted and uptight. And there’s this:

Tate Reeves cannot tell a joke. I’m sorry. He just can’t….

…Then there’s Hood. He speaks extemporaneously — doesn’t follow a script — and it sounds like it. He rambles. I know he has a sharp legal and political mind, but in public speeches he sounds like a guy who spends a lot of time looking for his car keys.

Clarion Ledger
7/29/17