JACKSON, Miss.—Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves offered an optimistic tone as he delivered his second inaugural speech on the steps of the Mississippi Capitol Building Tuesday in Jackson, even echoing the hopeful rhetoric of former President Barack Obama.
“The fact is that everything we do, we do together,” Reeves said. “There is no Black Mississippi or white Mississippi. There is no red Mississippi or blue Mississippi. There is only one Mississippi—and it is Mississippi Forever.”
The governor’s language evoked the same message Obama delivered during his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address when he was still a Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois. “There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America,” Sen. Obama said before heaping criticism on “pundits” who “like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states.” That speech is often credited with fueling his rise and eventual 2008 election as president.
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph swore Reeves in for his second term as governor on Tuesday. Though the Florence, Miss., native did not mention Obama, he emphasized similar themes of unity and purpose as those the future Democratic president offered nearly 20 years ago.
“I really do believe that this is Mississippi’s time. We have an opportunity ahead of us that we must seize. But it will require that we be bold and ambitious,” Reeves told those gathered.
But the governor has often struck deeply partisan tones during his time in office and during campaigns, falsely accusing Mississippi’s only Black or Democratic congressman of supporting Hamas and sending out divisive mailers that misstated 2023 opponent Brandon Presley’s views on transgender rights. Despite signing the bill into law that retired Mississippi’s old Confederate-themed state flag in 2020, Reeves declared April as “Confederate Heritage Month” during each of his first four years as governor while denying that systemic racism exists.
During Tuesday’s speech, the governor looked back to what he considered the successes of his first term. He outlined investments in Mississippi’s workforce, a pay raise for teachers and a $524-million tax
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