The Note: Race echoes loudly through Mississippi Senate runoff

It’s a race that shouldn’t be a race. And it’s fundamentally about race.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It’s a race that shouldn’t be a race. And it’s fundamentally about race.

If Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith holds on, she will of course have Trump in large part to thank. The president held a pair of election-eve rallies to laud Hyde-Smith as “a truly incredible leader” – and ask, regarding Democrat Mike Espy, “how does he fit in with Mississippi?”

Yet it would be an ugly win for the incumbent senator and the Republican Party, reviving memories of a past in the South that isn’t actually gone or forgotten. Someone placed nooses on trees on the state Capitol grounds in Jackson on Monday and Espy will hold his election-night party just a few blocks away, at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Trump may be more comfortable with a race about race than most. But the same doesn’t necessarily go for the party he leads.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

"No real relationships, just convenient transactions."

That was how Utah Rep. Mia Love summarized the politics of the president on Monday during her concession speech in a closely-watched U.S. House race. And in the process, she added her name to a growing list of Republicans looking to reclaim the party's moral compass in the era of Trump.

But the extended excoriation of the president, in the same vein of Love's fellow Utahan and now Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, matters less than the actual level of discontent within the Republican rank-and-file.

The 2018 midterms provided irrefutable evidence that Trump and the vast majority of Republican voters have little tolerance for disloyalty. Just ask Republicans like Mark Sanford, Mike Coffman or Carlos Curbelo, who all lost either in the primary or general election after they either criticized or mostly steered clear of Trump.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's potential 2020 bid is the only tangible challenge to Trump within the Republican Party right now, but with Love's call for the GOP's outreach to minority communities, it remains to be seen just how broad the anti-Trump sentiment is within the GOP.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

Trump's final pitch in Mississippi to send Hyde-Smith back to the U.S. Senate drew on fear as he unleashed a staunch defense of his administration's response to a crisis happening more than 1,000 miles away.

“We will not tolerate an assault or attack on our border agents, like happened yesterday," he said at the Tupelo rally Monday, as he took aim at the migrants who tried to breach the U.S. border near Tijuana.

Hoping to spur the crowd in Trump country to return to the polls Tuesday, the president incited fear about having these "tough people," as he describes, enter Mississippi, although the state doesn't sit on the border with Mexico.

“Look at what’s happening along the border, you see what’s happening," he said. "The mayor of Tijuana said these are tough people, these people fight when you talk to them, these are tough people. We don’t want those people in Mississippi."

As for his own fears, Trump urged the crowd to cast a ballot in the runoff and not let apathy undermine a victory for Hyde-Smith.

“A lot of people think we’re going to have a big win,” he told to the crowd. "Don’t take any chances."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who says President Donald Trump is not happy with the planned layoffs at General Motors. Then, we hear from AutoTrader’s Michelle Krebs who says the company is not making enough profits to offset money being spent on future technologies like electric and autonomous vehicles. And, ABC News’ Katherine Faulders tells us why Paul Manafort’s cooperation deal with the special counsel appears to have fallen apart.


  • President Donald Trump hosts a Christmas reception at 3:45 p.m.
  • Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. (EST) in Mississippi.
  • 116th Congress member-elect new member orientation resumes at 8 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on national defense strategy at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Office Senate Building.
  • First lady Melania Trump and Karen Pence visit the Red Cross headquarters to assemble military comfort kits at 10 a.m. in Washington.
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