Senate candidates make final push before special election

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - One of the biggest political races of the year could be decided within the next 24 hours.

"It will guide the direction of this country. The midterms are always very crucial but they've never been as critical as they are right now," said U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel and Hyde-Smith capped off their statewide tours with a stop in Meridian.

Both candidates greeted supporters as their blazing campaign trails wind down.

"We're fighting the good fight. We've been more than 50,000 miles. We've answered all the questions. More than 600 events. I'm the conservative in this race. I'm the only lifetime Republican in this race. The other candidates either voted for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and that's not me. If you want a fighter, I'm your guy," said McDaniel.

McDaniel captured endorsements from conservative commentator Mark Levin and former presidential candidate Ron Paul in his race to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Hyde-Smith secured the support from Cong. Gregg Harper, Gov. Phil Bryant and President Trump. Bryant explained his decision to endorse Hyde-Smith over the other three candidates.

"Cindy Hyde-Smith runs on her own record. She runs on what she's able to accomplish. So there's a vast difference between people that throw mud and people that get things done," said Bryant.

McDaniel spoke to his supporters on his loyalty to the Republican Party, while challenging the ideals of his opponent. Here’s how both candidates responded.

"Once you understand that I'm the only lifelong Republican in the race, the only lifelong conservative in the race, the other candidates voted for Planned Parenthood, they voted for sanctuary cities, they voted to fund Obamacare, they voted for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, I think the people of Mississippi will rally to my side," said McDaniel.

"Well I think I've been elected twice statewide as a Republican. I'm a pretty strong Republican and that's a lot of noise coming from a camp that we're just going to turn off the noise pretty quickly," said Hyde-Smith.

Harper also responded to McDaniel’s comment.

“Anybody that says Cindy Hyde-Smith isn’t a real Republican needs to check their facts and reexamine why they’re saying that,” said Harper.

Both candidates expect this race to go to a runoff.

"Tomorrow, first of all let's get that behind us and then for the runoff in three weeks. But we do expect a runoff," said Hyde-Smith.

"Ultimately we think there's going to be a runoff and if that's the case then we like our chances," said McDaniel.

Democratic candidate Mike Espy wrapped up his tour by visiting his supporters in Jackson. Espy also has several endorsements, including Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Myrlie Evers-Williams.