Harrison County

Ivanka Trump is coming to Gulfport. Here’s why.

Ivanka Trump is coming to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center on Thursday.

“They asked me to keep it confidential,” center Executive Director Cindy DeFrances said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve been working on this about a week.”

The event is sponsored by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Labor Department. Trump will host the event with Patti Greene, bureau director, according to an email sent to the Sun Herald by the White House.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith — a Republican supporter of President Trump who is running Nov. 6 for the seat Sen. Thad Cochran vacated — will join the women for the event, along with local government officials, small business owners, working parents and private business people, the White House email says.

The White House said Trump is attending the event in her official capacity as an adviser to the president and referred questions about Hyde-Smith’s political race to the campaign.

Hyde-Smith is running against Democratic contender Mike Espy, a former U.S. representative, and Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel. A new poll shows Hyde-Smith leading the race with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Espy with 29 percent and McDaniel with 15 percent.

Campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Hyde-Smith is attending the Lynn Meadows event as a U.S. senator, not as part of her campaign.

The White House email says the event at Lynn Meadows is meant “to highlight why high-quality, affordable child care is critical in order to have a strong and prosperous workforce.”

Scallan said Tuesday afternoon that she had just learned Ivanka Trump would be attending. Hyde-Smith has been a staunch Trump supporter. Trump campaigned for her earlier this month at a rally in North Mississippi.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s office is aware of Ivanka Trump’s planned visit. The email from the White House quoted him at length. His remarks read, in part:

“Expanding quality early childhood education and preparing the Mississippi workforce for the jobs of tomorrow has been a priority of mine since taking office. Ivanka Trump and I share this priority. Her commitment to helping others has led us to work together on issues spanning from education to criminal justice reform.”

The event is invitation-only and not open to the public.