SOUTHAVEN — U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the controversy surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing, endorsed incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s candidacy and touted his successes at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Southaven on Tuesday evening.
Around 5:30 p.m., before Trump took the stage, Ole Miss student and Miss Mississippi 2018 Asya Branch sang the national anthem, before several supporters — including Mississippi Republican Party chairman Lucien Smith, U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves — came out to hype up the crowd.
By the time Trump took the stage around 7 p.m., thousands of people filled the Landers Center. All but a few seats were taken, and the floor section was packed as he greeted the crowd, saying, “Hello, Mississippi, hello.”
Trump defended Kavanaugh and mocked Christine Blasey Ford’s claims and recent testimony that she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh during high school over 30 years ago.
“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago? I don’t remember,” Trump said, referring to Ford’s testimony.
“Upstairs, downstairs — where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,” he continued.
Trump criticized and attacked the characters of U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker and Dianne Feinstein to boos and laughter from the audience between his statements defending Kavanaugh.
“All that the Democrats know — and all they really know how to do — is obstruct, resist, demolish, destroy and delay,” Trump said. “They’ve been trying to destroy Judge Kavanaugh since the very first second he was announced because they know Judge Kavanaugh will follow the Constitution, as written.”
The crowd erupted in a chant of “We want Kavanaugh!”
“Number one in his class at Yale, perfect human being, great father, great husband — this is a great person,” Trump said. “And people are saying, ‘Well, maybe it’s true.’ And because of the fact that maybe it’s true, he should not become a United States Supreme Court Justice. How horrible is that?”
Trump said Kavanaugh’s life is shattered and compared his situation to that of any average man in America.
“This is a time when your father, when your husband, when your brother, when your son, could do great,” Trump said. “Mom, I did great in school. I’ve worked so hard. Mom, I’m so pleased to tell you I just got a fantastic job with IBM … Mom, a terrible thing just happened. A person who I’ve never met said that I did things that were horrible, and they’re firing me from my job, mom. I don’t know what to do.”
“It’s a damn sad situation, okay? We better start as a country getting smart and getting tough and not letting that stuff right back there — all those cameras — tell us how to live our lives,” Trump said, gesturing to the media. “They are really dishonest. Not all of them, but damn well most of them. Fake news.”
After praising Gov. Phil Bryant, Trump invited him to the stage.
“This man has done more as president of the United States in two years than any president that I can ever remember or ever studied about. He is a remarkable man, and he’s making America great again,” Bryant said, as the audience started a chant of “USA.”
Trump also gave shoutouts to other Mississippi politicians Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, U.S. Reps. Trent Kelly and Gregg Harper and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.
“Finally, I want to introduce the person we are all here tonight to support — a true Mississippi patriot, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith,” Trump said.
Hyde-Smith said Trump “loves our law enforcement” and mentioned the deaths of two police officers in Brookhaven and a highway patrol trooper in Tippah County.
“We’ve had a tragic week in Mississippi with our law enforcement, but this man supports law enforcement 100 percent,” Hyde-Smith said.
Trump mentioned Hyde-Smith’s opponent Mike Espy and said a vote for him is “a vote for the Democrat agenda to open borders and for radical socialism.”
“Cindy has voted with me 100 percent of the time. She’s always had my back. She’s always had your back, and a vote for Cindy is a vote for me,” Trump said, endorsing Hyde-Smith.
“Your vote in this election will decide which party controls the United States Senate, and that’s a great woman,” Trump went on to say.
Trump covered other topics throughout the night, including the replacement of NAFTA with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the low unemployment rate and job creation under his administration, vowing to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and the potential for a second summit with North Korea.
Trump ended the rally by urging constituents again to vote for Hyde-Smith and Wicker.
“We are one people, one family and one glorious nation under God. And together, we will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again,” Trump said, concluding his speech before walking off the stage to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.