Welcome to Mississippi, Mr. President
Aug. 7, 2002
There is nothing in American politics quite like a presidential visit and Mississippi will experience some of the sensation today as President Bush arrives in the state capital. He will visit Madison Central High School in Madison County and then conduct a little fund-raising business on behalf of U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering at a $25,000 a ticket luncheon.
The pomp and circumstance that accompany the U.S. president when he travels is a complex blend of security, communications and entertainment. The U.S. Secret Service has been at the sites for days now, the White House advance team has been planning each step the president will take, the briefing papers have all been written, the president's remarks prepared, the media credentials issued. All that can be done before the president actually takes that step off Air Force One and onto Mississippi soil has been done.
At least two politicians will be watching the Bush visit very carefully U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows and U.S. Chip Pickering.
Politically, The White House knows the race between incumbents Pickering and Shows is likely to be a close one and national political analysts believe its outcome will directly influence which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives come January. That is important to the president's agenda.
Pickering is fortunate to have a popular president campaigning for him. So far, Shows has not indicted any willingness to have representatives of the national Democratic Party come to Mississippi on his behalf, and that's probably smart politics.
In 90 days or so, voters in Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District will cast the actual ballots that will determine whether Shows or Pickering will return to Washington. It's time to get serious and this presidential visit is part of the show.