MS senator under fire over 'public hanging' comment

Cindy Hyde-Smith’s ‘public hanging’ joke draws Twitter backlash, response from Espy | The Sun Herald

"I think that she is ... addressing the fact that she has put out a statement", Bryant said when reporters asked why the senator wasn't answering questions.

Hyde-Smith, who is now embroiled in a runoff election with Democratic opponent Rep. Mike Espy, who is black, had reportedly been responding to praise from a local rancher when she made the remarks.

Hyde-Smith is challenged by former congressman and former US agriculture secretary Mike Espy.

The runoff election will take place on November 27.

Hyde-Smith was appointed to replace retired Sen.

A onetime Democrat who switched parties in 2010 while serving in the Mississippi State Senate, Hyde-Smith is the first woman to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate.

"We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state", he said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The Trump endorsee became the first woman to represent MS in Congress after she was appointed to replace Republican Senator Thad Cochran, who stepped down in April because of health problems.

In the 10 second clip, Hyde-Smith can be heard speaking to a small group in front of a statue of Elvis Presley in Presley's hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi.

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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith reportedly insisted Sunday that she was complimenting someone when she said, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row", a comment that was captured in a video recording.

Espy, an African-American from Yazoo City, was swift in his reproach of her comments, calling them "harmful" and "hurtful to millions of Mississippians" on CNN's New Day Monday.

"Hyde-Smith's decision to joke about 'hanging, ' in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick", he said.

In its own statement, the Espy campaign called her comments "reprehensible".

"I can't reach into her heart and determine why that came out of her mouth", Espy said. "I knew her when I appointed her".

NAACP President Derrick Johnson drew a parallel from Hyde-Smith's remarks to President Donald Trump.

The Republican lawmaker is now facing backlash for the remark from her opponent in Mississippi U.S. Senate race, which will head to a runoff later this month.

Numerous lynchings were public spectacles, where white residents would congregate from all around to watch the hanging in a carnival-like atmosphere.

Hyde-Smith received 41.5 percent of the vote and Espy earned 40.6 in Tuesday's special election. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 654 lynchings of black people were carried out within its borders, dramatically more than any other state. Trump's visit sparked protests and prompted African American officials, including U.S. Reps.

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