Campaign Countdown

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Gov. Ronnie Musgrove launched his "Don't Mess with Mississippi Jobs Tour" Tuesday on the Gulf Coast. The tour brought him to Structural Steel in Meridian. Musgrove will be on the road for several days.

A number of employees met Musgrove at the entrance to the plant.

"We've got some of the best people in the world right here in Mississippi and I'm proud of our people," said the governor. "I'm proud of what you all do."

Later at a news conference, Musgrove was asked about why none of the 33 spin-offs from Nissan in Canton have come to east Mississippi.
The question was asked a second time by this reporter, without getting a direct answer.

"Certainly jobs have and we'll continue to make sure that, we've got to make sure that infrastructure is in place and we keep working and making sure that we've got job opportunities here," Musgrove said.

The questions turned to the much publicized agreement between Mississippi and Alabama for a joint effort to develop a plant site in the Kewanee area.

"After Nov. 4, we will have the governor of Alabama over here and we'll sit down and talk not only to you but to business leaders across the greater east central Mississippi area," said Musgrove.

Musgrove said he still has hope for the agreement.

"In fact, we're working right now. We've got companies looking at this very location now because of that agreement," said Musgrove.

The balance of the news conference was devoted to themes familiar through Gov. Musgrove's television commercials, NAFTA and alleged actions by his opponent, Haley Barbour.

Barbour says Musgrove is misrepresenting his record and if he is elected he will help create jobs for Mississippi. A rally was held for Barbour Tuesday night at Kemper Lake near DeKalb. The Barbour campaign also announced that Vice President Dick Cheney will campaign for Barbour in the Columbus area. It's tentatively set for Monday.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas will appear in Biloxi and Jackson Friday with Barbour. Barbour's campaign said the candidate will host a veterans' luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Broadwater Towers in Biloxi and a veterans' reception at 2:00 p.m. at the Jim Buck Ross Agriculture Museum in Jackson.

Dole, a former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee will be a guest at both events. He is the latest of several big-name Republicans to campaign for Barbour, a former GOP national chairman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.