President Donald Trump escaped Washington to the red state of Mississippi on Friday night for his first campaign rally since the House sanctioned an already-fast-moving impeachment inquiry.
The president, who descended on Tupelo, Mississippi, to whip up support ahead of a surprisingly close gubernatorial election, quickly turned his ire toward Democrats and their impeachment inquiry after briefly celebrating the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former leader of the Islamic State.
"And Baghdadi, he was a savage, and soulless monster, but his reign of terror is over. American Special Operators executed a masterful raid that ended his wretched life and punched his ticket to hell, I guess you could say," Trump added.
The president didn't waste time shifting his attention to blasting Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a day after a divided House passed an impeachment process resolution.
Trump called the vote "an attack on democracy itself."
"Yesterday the Democrats voted to potentially nullify the votes of 63 million Americans, disgracing themselves and bringing shame upon the House of Representatives," the president said, adding that impeachment is something he "never thought I would be involved in. The word 'impeachment,' to me, it is a dirty word."
Before Trump started talking, hundreds of attendees had lined up outside the BancorpSouth Arena ahead of the rally, days before the state heads to the polls to pick the next governor.
With impeachment looming, Trump was expected to urge supporters in the deep-red state to fend off Democrats from capturing a governor's seat held by Republicans 24 of the past 28 years.
"The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!" Trump tweeted moments after a divided House voted to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.
The president also criticized the media for its coverage of the ISIS leader's death, claiming that if he were a Democrat the story would have garnered more attention. Trump also spent very little time praising the military forces that carried out the dangerous mission.
"Did you ever see a story disappear so fast? I mean, here, if Obama had that story, that thing would be going on for another seven months," Trump said, before also complaining that the military dog, Conan, involved in the operation was getting "more publicity than me."
The president also didn't hold back when addressing the latest 2020 Democrat to drop out of the race, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke.
"Beto. Beto. Did you hear? Oh, that poor bastard. Well, poor pathetic guy. He was pathetic," Trump said, hours after O'Rourke officially withdrew. "Beto quit like -- he quit like a dog, when he quit I said, 'See, people think this is easy, this isn't easy.'"
Trump later turned his attention to the race in Mississippi.
"Tate is strong on Crime, tough on Illegal Immigration, and will protect your Second Amendment," Trump tweeted last week, throwing his weight behind Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. "He loves our Military and supports our Vets!"
The surprisingly tight gubernatorial race in Mississippi between Reeves and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood likely will be decided on Tuesday.
In the Magnolia State, Trump toppled Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by nearly 18 points in 2016, and Republicans have controlled the governor's mansion for since 1992, except when Democrat Ronnie Musgrove served from 2000 and 2004.
Reeves has sought to link Hood to the Democratic establishment in Washington, casting him as "just another Democrat" who stands in complete opposition to the president.
"I believe that we must stand up to the liberals who are doing great damage to this country. Jim Hood is with them. He is totally against President Trump and conservative policies. He's just another Democrat," Tate Reeves said in a statement for a new ad.
Meanwhile, Hood, the only Democrat to be elected state-wide in recent years after winning four attorneys general races, has been accused of creating divisions within his own party for refusing to publicly support down-ballot Democrats.
"When I ran for district attorney in 1995, my dad gave me some good advice," Hood said at a debate with Reeves last month, according to the Associated Press. "He said, 'Son, you run your race and you stay out of everybody else's.' And I have done that, and that's been good, sage advice for me, and I'm going to continue to do that."
"I run my race because it's going to be hard enough for me to win in this state. And I want to make sure that I represent Republicans and Democrats -- because a lot of Republicans are going to vote for me," he continued.
Further complicating the close race is a Jim Crow-era law that outlines a two-step process for electing a governor in which a candidate must win the majority of the popular vote and carry a majority of the 122 state House districts. If neither candidate clearly wins both, the House votes for the winner unbound to how districts voted.
A federal judge ruled Friday that the court would not prevent the state's unique electoral vote rule from being used in the upcoming election, but expressed "grave concern" that the rule is unconstitutional -- leaving the door open for further consideration of the case should the outcome of the election be determined that way.