Q & A: Gov. Tate Reeves campaigns at Pine Belt festivals

Gov. Tate Reeves takes to the campaign trail Saturday in Pine Belt
Published: Oct. 7, 2023 at 10:49 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - It’s exactly one month away from voters hitting the polls for the Nov. 7 general election, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves was on the campaign trail in the Pine Belt on Saturday.

Reeves visited Mitchell Farms in Collins for its 13th Annual Peanut Festival before heading to Laurel’s Loblolly Festival. WDAM 7 caught up with him for a few questions before the general election Nov. 7.

Q: What are you doing to prepare and campaign in the last couple of weeks before the election in November?

Reeves: “It’s great to be here in the Pine Belt, here in downtown Laurel, and what a huge crowd we have here. We’re really just getting our message out. We are talking to the people of Mississippi about the importance of conservative leadership (and) the fact that we have the lowest unemployment rate in state history. More people are working now than any time in state history. Our education results are incredibly positive. And we want to continue Mississippi’s momentum.”

Q: Can you recap some of the top priorities for your campaign?

Reeves: “The top priorities for the campaign are to continue to spread our message to the people all across the state and particularly here in the Pine Belt, the message that conservative leadership works and conservative leadership matters. I think certainly when you think about the global pandemic, there was a huge difference in what happened in red states and what happened in blue states, and the red states are better off because of it. We don’t need to elect a blue-state governor to come to Mississippi and try to tell us what to do.”

Q: What kind of impact do community events like Loblolly have on Mississippi’s economy?

Reeves: “Yeah, almost 30,000 people have come through here during this event. I was actually speaking to the Mississippi Tourism Association (Friday) in Meridian, and one of the things that I said to them (was), literally, about 100,000 jobs in Mississippi are in the tourism industry. That means about one in 10 people work in the tourism industry. It is incredibly important to our state. And it brings in almost $7 billion a year in total economic output. Again, it’s the fourth-largest industry in Mississippi, and tourism is going to help drive our economy for many years to come.”

Q: We understand that there were multiple opportunities to debate your opponent Brandon Presley. Why choose just one and how are you feeling about the upcoming debate?

Reeves: “I look forward to debating my opponent so we can set the record straight on the things that he’s saying that just simply aren’t true. I think the people of Mississippi can see through his lies. As I walk up and down the streets I hear that over and over again. My opponent has millions and millions of dollars in out-of-state interests. Why do people in California and New York care about the governor’s race. And the reason for that is they don’t like the fact that Mississippi is doing well now. And the second thing that I hear is that we’re just not going to let someone bring blue-state policies into Mississippi. With respect to the debate, we’re looking forward to debate because I look forward to doing exactly that. Talking about the importance of having conservative leadership in Mississippi, and we’ll have a good opportunity to do that and I’m hopeful my opponent shows up to the debate, and if and when he does, we’ll have a good time.”

Q: One of your most recent campaign ads addresses those claims about Brandon Presley, would you care to comment on that?

Reeves: “I would just simply say, my opponent has the tendency to not tell the truth. My grandmother used to say that there are some people in the world that would rather climb up a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth. And, unfortunately, my opponent is one of those people. But that’s okay. I trust the people of Mississippi. I think they are going to see through the nonsense and recognize that the record that we have to run on, the positive message that this is Mississippi’s time, that Mississippi has momentum, and this is Mississippi’s time, is going to be well-received by the people across this great state.”

Q: How effective do you think your new plan to fix the health care crisis in Mississippi is going to be?

Reeves: “Well, I will tell you, if you really want to know the answer to that, talk to the leadership at Forrest General Hospital, talk to the leadership here at the Laurel hospital, because what you’ll find is that hospital leaders agree all across this state that this is really going to be a game changer for the hospital system in Mississippi. It’s incredibly important and it’s really going to help keep hospitals open in rural areas, but it’s also going to help finance those hospitals in some of the larger metropolitan areas like here in the Hattiesburg-Laurel metro areas.”

Q: Although this did not happen under your administration, how do you plan to prevent or how have you already implemented new policies to ensure government corruption like the $77 million TANF embezzlement scheme does not happen again?

Reeves: “We’ve already implemented reforms in state government to ensure that we are getting the necessary resources to those who need them, and we’ll continue to do that. In fact, not only have we done that, we’ve also led the investigation on the civil side to recoup every single penny that is owed to the people of Mississippi, and we’ve filed litigation to make sure that that occurs. And we’re going to continue to do that because that’s what I was elected to do.”

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