On The Campaign Trail With Ronnie Musgrove

Ronnie Musgrove: "Let me talk to the real people. There's the press people. I want to talk to the real people."

The real people were standing outside Mississippi Power's front gate.

Musgrove: "Orlando, how are you doing? Good to see you. Thank you very much. Appreciate you."

It was 5:30. The sun was still asleep. But the governor was wide awake.

Musgrove: "I get up between four and 4:30 every morning, because again I just get excited about what I do. And I feel real good about that."

Musgrove spent two hours outside plant Watson. Whenever a potential voter walked by, the governor made sure he said 'hi'.

Musgrove: "Hello. Mark? Let me shake hands. Ronnie Musgrove. Good to see you this morning."

Mark: "Nice to meet you."

Musgrove: "This is a tough crew. Watch them out here. Thank you very much. Appreciate you."

Musgrove had just completed his final televised debate. He knew the race for the governor's mansion was too close to call. But instead of being uptight, he was very relaxed.

Musgrove: "Here this morning you see real Mississippians. People who work hard everyday, who work to provide a way for their family."

When the sun peaked over the power plant, Musgrove hit the pavement. He took a tour of nearby Taber Extrusions. The governor watched 135 workers turn steel into an important Mississippi commodity.

Musgrove: "I get excited when I see doors opened and roads opened up for people. It's just something that really rewarding. And I get excited about it. I don't think in terms of being in politics or being in political office. I think about the opportunity to solve problems, but to give people a chance."

The latest poll has Ronnie Musgrove five points behind his republican challenger. According to the governor, he's in the perfect position to stalk his prey. In this case, the hunting metaphor works, because Mississippi's 62nd Governor is an avid hunter.

Kessie: "What do you do to unwind?"

Musgrove: "I really enjoy hunting. And my son is a huge hunter. My daughter is a great deer hunter. She's probably as good a shot as me and Jordan. But those are things I enjoy doing with the children."

The children are 18 year old Jordan and 15 year old Carmen Rae. They don't campaign with him. But they do stay in constant contact.

Musgrove: "Jordan and I were talking last night. Of course he's just dying to go duck hunting right now."

Dad was on his own hunting trip.

Musgrove: "Are you doing all right?" Worker: "Hi Governor. How are you?"

Musgrove: "Doing great. Good to see you guys."

The incumbent shook hands with dozens of potential voters. During a break, I asked him a few questions that had very little to do with politics.

Kessie: "I want to know about Ronnie Musgrove the person. Is there anything that people should know about you the person that maybe they don't know?"

Musgrove: "I believe they know I'm a good worker. But I don't know that I enjoy spending a lot of time with the children. That I enjoy different things that we do. That I enjoy just spending time with people and not talking politics. Not talking about things that you would normally think a person spends time talking about as a quote unquote politician."

Kessie: "So what's a good conversation for you?"

Musgrove: "Sports."

Kessie: "All right, name an athlete who you would consider a hero to Ronnie Musgrove."

Musgrove: "I always liked Archie Manning, just because he had a great talent and skill and he also had humility. He had an easy going manner. He was a person who recognized he wasn't the most important person around."

Manning quarterbacked Ole Miss in the 70s. For the last four years, Musgrove has been the state's man under center. And this hunter is not ready to be benched.

Kessie: "What are you passionate about? What is it that makes you tick?"

Musgrove: "I realize that life here is good because I've got eternal life. That's important. And I have a sense of peace about what I do here because I have a sense of peace about eternity. Secondly, I enjoy seeing good things happen to people."

When you look at Ronnie Musgrove, many people think you're looking at a picture of his parents.

Musgrove: "My dad had such great influence at an early age. In fact, he was the one that always talked about wanting a lawyer in the family when no one had ever graduated from high school. But my mom was loving. She taught me the values, along with my dad, of hard work. She taught the value of education. And those two principles were ones that always stayed with me. They have been a center point of my personal life. But they have also been a center point obviously of my professional life, and public service life."

Education has been the cornerstone of a political path that Musgrove followed first to the Lt. Governor's office, and then to the governor's office.

Kessie: "Do you think of yourself as a politician? Or do you hate that title?"

Musgrove: "I don't like the title. I feel extremely privileged to be able to create opportunity for people."

Kessie: "We all have heroes. Growing up who was your biggest hero?"

Musgrove: "Thomas Jefferson is a real hero of mine. Harry Truman's style was very good. I like Truman's style. Straight forward, to the point, wasn't flashy. I like that style."

Truman sort of reminded Musgrove of his own father.

Musgrove: "My dad was an extremely hard worker. He died when I was seven. But I remember sitting around the table at night after dinner, and listening to them talk, we didn't have a TV. And children didn't speak unless they were spoken to or asked. But I would listen to my dad and mom talk. And I would watch him work all day long, and then work again at night. That was just his nature. And more of the people in my community have said I'm more like my dad than any other member of my family."