Former President Donald Trump endorsed Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ bid for reelection, likely giving the incumbent governor a needed boost less than a week from the election.
In a video, Trump says President Joe Biden is “absolutely destroying our country” and that Presley is the Biden’s chosen candidate.
“Joe Biden’s people are funding Brandon Presley’s campaign,” Trump said in the video, which was first reported by Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Will Stribling. “They own him. He’ll do whatever they want him to do. It’s really bad for Mississippi. I’m asking you to make time to vote. You’ve got to vote for Gov. Tate Reeves, and he has my total and complete endorsement.”
As of Tuesday night, the Reeves campaign had not publicly shared the video or touted the endorsement, but the campaign posted the video to its YouTube page and labeled it “unlisted.”
Presley in a statement did not address the Trump endorsement, but said he was proud of the “coalition of Republicans, Democrats, and independents” supporting his campaign that he believes will result in his victory in the general election next week.
“Some of my strongest supporters are Republicans who voted for and donated to Tate Reeves four years ago and now have jumped ship and are supporting me,” Presley said.
The Trump endorsement comes at perhaps a critical time for Reeves. Several in-state Republican operatives have been publicly warning that GOP voter enthusiasm appears low ahead of the Nov. 7 election, and that low turnout could jeopardize Reeves’ chance of winning. Several Republican operatives have also told Mississippi Today and others that Reeves’ polling is lackluster, showing in some cases the governor failing to secure enough to win an outright majority and Presley within striking distance.
If no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 7, the top two vote-getters would advance to a Nov. 28 runoff election. Mississippi Today has reported that both the Reeves and Presley campaigns are preparing for the possibility of a runoff.
The Trump video is a marked contrast to Trump’s involvement in Reeves’ 2019 campaign for governor. Just five days before the November 2019 election between Reeves and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, then-President Trump flew to Tupelo for a rally in a key battleground region of the state. Some Democratic and Republican operatives contend that eleventh-hour Trump visit got Reeves over the hump, ultimately leading to a Reeves victory with 51.9% of the vote.
As of Oct. 31, Reeves’ campaign has not announced a Trump visit ahead of the 2023 election.