Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith during a shootout competition against U.S. Congressman Michael Guest and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Kenny Griffis. The shooting competition was part of a speaking event hosted by the Madison County Republican Women, the Rankin County Republican Women and the Hinds County Republican Women, Wednesday evening at The Range in Gluckstadt.

GLUCKSTADT — In a rare public campaign appearance on Wednesday, incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith fired guns at a shooting range and fired up her base with some red meat on law and order, President Donald Trump and a pending U.S. Supreme Court confirmation.

“You’re not hearing anybody talk about the borders anymore,” Hyde-Smith told a crowd of about 150 at a Madison, Hinds and Rankin County Republican Women event held at The Range by Jimmy Primos in Gluckstadt. “We have got to win this election. You talk about an open border, lawlessness, civil unrest, we can see an America that we do not recognize. I just encourage you to stay engaged, continue to ask your friends. We are 27 days out. It has been such an honor to represent you, it truly has and I have a great staff in D.C., I’m seeing so many of them out there.

“We need a conservative fighter in this seat,” Hyde-Smith said. “We need somebody that can stand up for unborn children, somebody that can stand up for the Second Amendment to protect our gun rights. We need somebody that understands Mississippi rural health care and everything that entails.”

Hyde-Smith, in a race for a seat that most prognosticators consider safely Republican in one of the reddest states in the country, has done little public campaigning and has declined invitations to debate her Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Mike Espy.

In comments to WJTV this week, Hyde-Smith said: “We have 27 days left. The last thing I’m worried about is a debate. With such stark differences, why would so much emphasis be put on a debate? … I don’t think a lot of minds would be changed.”

Hyde-Smith defeated Espy in a 2018 special election to fill out the term of longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, after Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to the seat temporarily. Hyde-Smith is former state agriculture commissioner, and a former longtime state senator, serving as a Democrat for much of her time in the Legislature before switching parties in 2010.

Hyde-Smith on Wednesday focused mostly on the pending Senate confirmation of Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in her comments to the crowd and media at Wednesday’s event.

“Let me tell you about Amy Coney Barrett — she is amazing. I met with her last week,” Hyde Smith said. “… It will be such a pleasure to get back and be able to go through the hearings starting Oct. 12.

“She is going to have a tough, tough time,” Hyde-Smith said. “That family is going to have a tough, tough time. They’re telling us it is going to be worse than Kavanaugh (confirmation hearings). I don’t see how it could possibly be worse than Kavanaugh. But she is a strong woman. I wish she was with us tonight to see all the strong women I’m looking at right now.”

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks to supporters during a speaking event hosted by the Madison County Republican Women, the Rankin County Republican Women and the Hinds County Republican Women, Wednesday evening at The Range in Gluckstadt.

Of Trump, Hyde-Smith said: “He’s been unfairly attacked every day since he took office. He is going to lead us back to prosperity.”

Hyde-Smith was well received by the crowd at The Range on Wednesday.

“I think she’s done a fabulous job,” said Laurie McCarthy, president of the Hinds County Republican Women. “She’s done a lot of good stuff.”

Kathy Henry, with the Rankin County Republican Women, said: “Cindy Hyde-Smith is one of the hardest working women I’ve ever known. My daughter works for her in D.C. in healthcare. With the pandemic, she was immediately on the phone to our hospitals, making sure they had what they needed, from respirators to funds.”

Hyde-Smith and fellow Republicans U.S. Rep. Michael Guest and incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Kenny Griffis also got a shoutout from rocker and activist Ted Nugent in a prerecorded message played for the crowd.

“Ted Nugent reporting for duty …” the Motor City Madman said. “We know there is a party that stands for God, family, country, freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and nowadays — more than ever — law and order. And there is a party that hates all that stuff, and they’re making it quite obvious … Big salute to Gov. Tate Reeves, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Congressman Michael Guest (and Kenny) Griffis.”

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.