The Neshoba County Fair dishes up
extra-large helpings of Mississippi politics, giving spectators
plenty of opportunity to interact with everyone from the governor
to aspiring lawmakers.
There are a few unwritten rules for politicians at the annual
gathering known as "Mississippi's Giant Houseparty."
Dress casually. Speak with fiery intensity. Serve up plenty of
feel-good rhetoric if you're an incumbent or righteously indignant
calls for change if you're a challenger.
And don't forget to mention your humble roots.
For two hectic days politicians delivered speeches in what has
become a political tradition.
The largest and most raucous crowds were for the speeches by
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour and his expected Democratic rival,
attorney John Arthur Eaves Junior.
Tribes of supporters were easy to identify with their constantly
bobbing Eaves and Barbour signs, and their red, white and blue
T-shirts emblazoned with the candidates' logos.
Eaves came onstage to a brief burst of "Eye of the Tiger," the
1980s rock tune-turned-sports anthem.
He unloaded on a governor he says has cut thousands of needy
people from Medicaid. He said Barbour, a former Washington
lobbyist, has sided with the "moneychangers" of oil, tobacco and
Barbour, calm and confident with a campaign bank account that's
seven times larger than Eaves', jabbed right back, saying Eaves is
a candidate with nothing of substance to offer.
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