Musgrove blames Barbour
for supporting NAFTA
A FIELD OF SIGNS – Gov. Ronnie Musgrove flashes a thumbs up sign to supporters on Thursday after his speech at the Neshoba County Fair. Musgrove, who faces weak opposition in Tuesday's Democratic primary, again took aim at Haley Barbour, his likely Republican opponent in the Nov. 4 general election. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
Aug. 1, 2003
PHILADELPHIA Gov. Ronnie Musgrove promised Thursday to keep Mississippi first, something he said his chief opponent in this year's gubernatorial race hasn't done by backing free trade with Mexico.
Musgrove, a Democrat, told a boisterous Neshoba County Fair crowd that he helped create thousands of new jobs in Mississippi while Haley Barbour, a Republican, fought in Washington for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But Barbour told reporters in a news conference about an hour later that NAFTA was passed in 1993 by a Democrat-controlled Congress and under the leadership of Democratic President Bill Clinton.
The Musgrove-Barbour spat highlighted the final day of old-fashioned political speaking at the 114-year-old county fair billed as "Mississippi's Giant Houseparty." The fair ends its eight-day run today.
Hundreds of fairgoers sat crammed on wooden benches in the stifling heat under the tin roof of the Founders Square pavilion to hear candidates for state and legislative offices solicit votes.
Musgrove, seeking a second term, meets four other little-known candidates in the Democratic primary Tuesday. Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman, meets Madison attorney Mitch Tyner in the GOP primary.
The winners and three other third-party candidates will meet in the Nov. 4 general election.
Musgrove and Barbour have ignored their party primary opponents for most of the campaign season, focusing their attention solely on each other. That strategy didn't change Thursday.
At the same time, Tyner, the only other candidate in next week's party primaries who is waging a statewide campaign, has taken swipes at both candidates. Tyner's main target, though, has been Barbour.
Tyner, one of the last politicians to stump at the fair, took repeated jabs at Barbour. Tyner complained that Barbour hasn't had Mississippi's interests in mind while lobbying in Washington.
Tyner, who spoke before the day's smallest crowd of less than 50 people, said he recently picked up a book about corporate greed called "Pigs at the Trough" and it mentioned Barbour.
Barbour, however, was more concerned with Musgrove and his comments about jobs and NAFTA.
Barbour supporters were among the more than 500 people who listened to Musgrove. Some Barbour supporters waved posters that read "Ronnie Loves Hillary" and "Trial Lawyers 4 Musgrove."
Musgrove, though, ignored the Barbour supporters.
Even though Musgrove outlined no new programs and covered no new ground, he still boasted about accomplishments he said warrants a second term. Among them: teacher pay raises and the Nissan plant in Canton.
Musgrove also said he and the late U.S. Sen. John Stennis had much in common they both put Mississippi first and they both had Barbour as a political opponent. Barbour lost to Stennis in a 1982 U.S. Senate race.