Donald Trump touched down in this ruby-red state Wednesday, returning to a region where he experienced an outburst of support that he has so far been unable to transfer to the battlegrounds up for grabs in November.
Trump appeared in Jackson, a majority black city, at a moment when he has increasingly encouraged African-Americans to vote for him by arguing that they have nothing to lose by doing so — a pitch Democrats say is insulting. Trump has been making his appeals in front of predominantly white crowds.
In his remarks, Trump nodded to the support Mississippi showed him from the early days of his campaign, saying he would “not forget it.” He also argued that Democrats have “failed and betrayed” the African-American community. He called Clinton a “bigot” who only sees minorities as votes.
Speaking off a teleprompter, Trump offered a broad and somewhat vague populist pitch, calling for a “new American future” and comparing his campaign with the effort to remove Britain from the European Union. He brought onstage former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, a leading proponent of “Brexit.”
“No one will be left behind anymore,” Trump said.
Some Republicans question the decision to spend extended time in Mississippi, which last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1976 when it went for Jimmy Carter of Georgia. There are no signs of a Democratic upset here this year.
“Every day that you are not spending in a crucial battleground is potentially a wasted opportunity, because what you can do when you are in a battleground state is guarantee coverage in media markets that are going to be crucial to winning that state,” said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012 who is not supporting Trump.
“Holding a rally while fundraising is not going to hinder Trump and [running mate Mike] Pence from hitting the battleground states hard,” said Keith Appell, a Republican strategist who supports Trump.
Trump won Mississippi by a comfortable margin in the GOP primary race, and he swept the rest of the Deep South, despite intense efforts by his top rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Trump campaigned heavily on his hard-line opposition to illegal immigration and as a political outsider.