The nation's eyes will be focused on Southaven and DeSoto County today as the nation's 45th president Donald J. Trump makes a campaign stop today at the Landers Center.
The appearance by Trump is being billed as a campaign event for U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the open seat left by the retirement of longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Hyde-Smith is facing opposition in a four-person nonpartisan field, which includes perennial candidate state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, Mike Espy, former U.S. Department of Agriculture official in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, and Toby Bartee.
Trump has made a swing through several states campaigning in advance of next month's mid-term elections, most recently making campaign appearances on behalf of candidates in Minnesota and West Virginia.
"It means a lot him coming here," said Ellen Jernigan, who served as Trump's county campaign chairman and has been a stalwart member of the state Republican Party. Jernigan was a delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention. "Everybody is so excited. The phone has been ringing off the wall. Trump will really make a difference for Cindy Hyde-Smith, who he has endorsed, who will hopefully continue to be our United States Senator. I think his visit here will also be a big economic boost. People will buy food and gas. You have a lot of commotion and excitement about his visit."
Jernigan said her support for Trump has not wavered.
"I have supported him through the primary and of course through the general election," Jernigan said. "I was his county chairman as soon as the primary was over. We worked really hard. He works really hard for other people. He loves campaigning."
Jernigan said Trump's appearance here will be a feather in the cap of DeSoto County.
"I think everybody in the whole region is excited," Jernigan said. "People are coming from all over the state and even from parts of Tennessee."
The Trump Make America Great Again Rally gets under way at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at the Landers Center. Individuals are urged to arrive at Landers Center several hours earlier for security purposes.
Southaven Police Chief Steve Pirtle said motorists can expect to contend with traffic delays several hours before and after the event on Interstate 55 and are urged to take alternative routes.
"If you don't have to be there, I would urge you to steer clear of the area until after the event," Pirtle said.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.