The Latest: Coliseum decked out in Christmas decor for Trump

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump in Mississippi (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Christmas has come to Biloxi, Mississippi, as President Donald Trump holds his second rally of the day in the state.

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum has been decked out in an elaborate display that includes dozens of evergreens, a gigantic fake chimney, complete with stockings and a wreath, and Santa’s present-filled sleigh. There are also large nutcrackers and even a blow-up helicopter with moving rotor and penguins inside.

Fake snow started falling when Trump entered to huge applause Monday.

During his campaign, Trump railed against what he described as a war against Christmas and promised that, if elected, “people would be saying Merry Christmas again.”

Trump is campaigning for Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is facing a tough runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday as she seeks to keep her seat.


8:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his government’s use of tear gas on women and children in a group of Central American migrants that included some who tried to storm the border in Tijuana over the weekend.

At a roundtable in Mississippi on Monday, Trump asked why mothers had put themselves and their children in harm’s way. He says, “You really say, ‘Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they were running up with a child?'”

Without offering evidence, he claimed that some of the women are not really parents but are instead “grabbers” who steal children so that they have a better chance of being granted asylum in the U.S.

Many of the female migrants have said they are seeking better lives for themselves and their children, away from gang violence and poverty.


7:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Vice President Mike Pence and daughter Ivanka Trump plan to attend the Mexican presidential inauguration on Saturday.

Trump made the announcement Monday at a roundtable discussion to promote prison and sentencing reform legislation in Mississippi.

The White House has said Trump has developed a “strong relationship” with incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and looks forward to working with him.

The two countries are working to find a solution for the caravans of Central American migrants traversing through Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum in the U.S.

Trump had an uncomfortable relationship with the outgoing administration of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Trump had promised during his 2016 campaign to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and have Mexico pay for it. Pena Nieto refused.


7:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is hailing prison and sentencing reform legislation as a “great bipartisan effort” as he holds a roundtable discussion to promote it during a campaign jaunt to Mississippi.

Among those in attendance Monday are Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Miss Mississippi Asya Branch, who is wearing a gown and crown.

Trump has called on Congress to pass a new version of the “First Step Act” that would make it easier for nonviolent offenders to amass credits to get out of prison early and change some mandatory minimum sentencing rules.

The Senate announced it has reached a bipartisan deal on the issue, but if remains unclear whether Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell will choose to hold a vote in the lame-duck session before Democrats take control of the House in 2019.


5:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his administration’s response to Central American migrants who tried to illegally cross the border in Tijuana.

The action on Sunday prompted a chaotic clash that included U.S. agents firing choking tear gas into the crowds.

Trump said Monday at a campaign rally in Mississippi that he is sending the caravan members a clear message: “Turn around and go back home.”

He tells that crowd that “we don’t want those people in Mississippi” and that migrants are “not coming through anymore” illegally.

In the days leading up to the midterm elections, Trump likened the approaching caravans to an “invasion.”

His comments at one point prompted the crowd to chant, “Build that wall!”


4:40 p.m.

Opening a political rally in Tupelo, Mississippi — the birthplace of Elvis Presley — President Donald Trump is joking that people used to say he looked like the king of rock ‘n’ roll.

Trump was in Mississippi stumping for Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is in a Senate runoff. She is running against Democrat Mike Espy in a contest that has increasingly taken on racial overtones.

Trump says that when he was young, “other than the blond hair, they said I looked like Elvis.”


4:30 p.m.

The midterms are over, but President Donald Trump is back campaigning in Mississippi to help GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith keep her seat in Republican hands.

Trump is holding two rallies Monday to help Hyde-Smith finish the final two years of the term started by Republican Thad Cochran.

Hyde-Smith is in a tight runoff Tuesday against Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton. Espy would be the first African-American to represent the state in the Senate since Reconstruction.

The election has been dominated by racial issues, after a photo emerged of Hyde-Smith wearing a replica hat of a Confederate soldier and a video emerged of her saying she’d be “on the front row” of a public hanging if invited.


9 a.m.

President Donald Trump is heading to Mississippi for two rallies to try to keep a Senate seat in Republican hands.

Trump will be campaigning Monday for GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is in a runoff Tuesday against Democrat Mike Espy. The former congressman was agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton.

Espy is trying to become the first African-American to represent Mississippi in the Senate since Reconstruction.

Trump plans to speak Monday afternoon at a rally in Tupelo and then that night at a rally in Biloxi.

Trump returned Sunday evening from Florida, where he spent the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago club. He visited his nearby golf course all five days he spent in Florida, and he took time to talk to troops stationed abroad on Thanksgiving Day.

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