During MS Senate debate, Hyde-Smith tries to quell outrage over ‘public hanging’ commentsBaltimore Post-Examiner

During Mississippi Senate debate, Hyde-Smith tries to quell outrage over ‘public hanging’ comments

WASHINGTON — During the Mississippi Senate debate on Tuesday night, Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith tried to quell outrage over comments she made this month that many consider racially insensitive.

“For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements,” she said.

Hyde-Smith went on to accuse her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, of having used outrage over her comments as political leverage.

“I also recognize that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me — a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent.”

Espy rejected that premise.

Mike Espy (D)
(https://twitter.com/espyforsenate)

“No one twisted your comments because your comments were live, you know, it came out of your mouth,” he said.

Espy added: “I don’t know what’s in your heart but we all know what came out of your mouth and it went viral within the first 3 minutes around the world.”

Espy said Hyde-Smith’s comments gave Mississippi “another black eye that we don’t need” and that they “rejuvenated the old stereotypes” about the state.

At a campaign rally on Nov. 2 in Tupelo, Hyde-Smith gestured toward a rancher and said: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

The remark drew outrage from civil rights groups and Democrats.

For many her remark provoked painful memories of Mississippi’s racist past in which the lynching of African-Americans was commonplace.

Hyde-Smith said in a statement Sunday that the remark was intended as “an exaggerated expression of regard” for the rancher and that “any attempt to turn this (the remark) into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday that Hyde-Smith’s remark “was just sort of made in jest” and that “it’s a shame” she is facing such intense criticism.

Trump said he plans to hold a rally for Hyde-Smith in Biloxi on Monday.

Over the past week many high-profile national Democrats such as Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) have come to Mississippi to show their support for Espy while some corporate donors including Walmart have withdrawn their support for Hyde-Smith.

Democrats hope to repeat the stunning upset they pulled last year in neighboring Alabama in which former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, a Democrat, narrowly defeated embattled Republican Roy Moore.

Hyde-Smith, 59, was appointed to the Senate in April by Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of 80-year-old Republican Thad Cochran.

At the time of the appointment, Hyde-Smith was Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. She is the state’s first female senator.

Espy, 64, served as Secretary of Agriculture during the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Prior to that, Espy served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2nd district. The predominantly African-African district covers most of western Mississippi. If elected, Espy would become Mississippi’s first black senator since the Reconstruction era.

Neither Hyde-Smith nor Espy met the 50 percent vote threshold required under Mississippi law for victory during the Nov. 6 midterm election.

Ultra-conservative Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel received more than 16 percent of the vote and Democrat Tobey Bartee received about 1.5 percent.

Hyde-Smith and Espy will compete in a run-off election on Tuesday.

Mississippi has not elected a Democratic senator since 1982.

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News 

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About the author

Bryan Renbaum

Bryan is a reporter and political columnist with Baltimore Post-Examiner and has broken multiple stories involving athletic scandals. He has been interviewed by ABC's Good Morning America as well as Baltimore area radio stations. Bryan has both covered and worked in the Maryland General Assembly and is extremely knowledgeable of politics, voting patterns and American history. In addition to his regular duties, Bryan freelances for several publications and performs investigative research. He has a B.A. in Political Science. Contact the author.
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