PINE BELT (WDAM) - Candidates for Mississippi's fourth congressional district are reacting to Donald Trump's recently released vulgar comments and explaining how they believe the remarks will impact Mississippians.
Rep. Steven Palazzo, who is running for his fourth term as a Republican congressman for the fourth district, said the comments were "unwarranted," but their importance has been exaggerated.
"It was unwarranted," Palazzo said. "They were crude and lewd comments, but I think the majority of Mississippians, majority of Americans, don't want to be distracted by this because it does feel like the media has blown it out of proportion. Especially in relation to all of the scandals that Hillary Clinton and her family and her foundation, whether it was Benghazi, the emails, those things, you know, they don't get the same attention. If Donald Trump sneezes, people try to make a story out of it."
Like the majority of high-ranking Mississippi Republicans, Palazzo said he will not pull his support of the GOP presidential nominee.
"Absolutely not," Palazzo said. "His policies and the things that he's talked about resonate with a majority of south Mississippians in the fourth congressional district. We care about keeping our promises to our veterans. We want accountability. We want, you know, transparency. We want a strong national defense, and we want to make sure that Mississippi workers are being thought of first, before we're worried taking care of the rest of the world. I'm definitely supporting Donald Trump for president. I mean, who else are you going to support? I mean, if you don't support Trump, you're absolutely supporting Hillary Clinton, and we know she's a crook. We know she's corrupt, and she's scandal laden. She's incompetent. Just look at her resume from being on the Secretary of State and Benghazi. So I'm definitely going with Donald Trump for president."
Mark Gladney, Palazzo's Democratic opponent, said the incumbent's brushing off of Trump's comments call his character into question.
"If you are not willing to remove that endorsement, then Steven Palazzo is endorsing that kind of behavior," Gladney said. "It's that simple, and we need to start looking at character. I've asked Steven Palazzo to remove himself as chairman of (the) Veterans for Trump campaign, and also to remove his endorsement. The reason why I say that is his own political leadership, GOP leadership, has pulled the endorsement. I think this is an example of poor behavior and low character. I think (Palazzo) needs to be a leader. Absolutely I think that we need to be looking at what our politicians are doing, not just what the presidential candidates are doing, but the other people that we're sending to office and make sure that we're putting people there that actually represent our values."
Gladney said, like himself, he thinks south Mississippians are ready for change.
"I'm a single dad to a 14-year-old daughter, and I am the brother to a Purple Heart recipient wounded warrior," he said. "I didn't like what my daughter was going to inherit in the current political situation, and I didn't like the way that my brother was treated by both the VA and trying to get help from Congressman Palazzo. We need to look for representation. We need to find somebody that is literally going to represent every single person in this district, regardless if they voted for them or not. We need someone that represents our values, our total values, not just for a small group, but can represent and talk to everyone."
Palazzo said he represents Mississippi's conservative values and does not think his decision to continue to support Trump will impact his chances in November.
"I don't see that," he said. "I mean, I think, again, people blow things out of proportion. The 24/7 media cycle, if they had taken a deep breath and waited and thought through the process, you probably wouldn't have had these people supposedly jumping ship because I do think now they regret, some of them do regret, jumping ship. But the thing is, it's not going to get easier between now and November the 8. Like I said, I do believe every other day they're going to try to do something to basically crush and ruin the Trump possibility of being president."
Gladney said, "I'd just like for people to take a real look at their candidates, and not look so much whether there's a D or an R behind their name. Let's look at the character. Let's look at someone who actually is who you are, not someone who goes to Washington, D.C. and becomes a millionaire in five years. Someone that's a normal, middle class, hard-working person that wants to represent all of you. That's what I think they need to ask."