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

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

Lamar White, Jr. posted a video of the Republican making the comment on Twitter Sunday.

Cindy Hyde-Smith is taking heat for a comment she made during a recent political rally in which she joked about eagerly attending a "public hanging".

Hyde-Smith, who is white, is the appointed incumbent locked in a runoff for her Senate seat with Democratic challenger Mike Espy, a former congressman and US agriculture secretary who is African-American.

Cindy Hyde-Smith was filmed praising a cattle rancher, saying: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row".

In a statement, Hyde-Smith said she "referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement".

Hyde-Smith defended her comments in a statement to media outlets later in the day, saying there were simply an "exaggerated expression of regard" and that any "attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous".

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

"They have no place in our political discourse, in MS, or our country", the statement said. According to the NAACP website, between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the US, and almost 73 percent of the victims were black. She is competing with Espy for the final two years of Cochran's term.

If Espy wins the runoff election, he will become Mississippi's first Black senator since Reconstruction.

She's battling Espy to determine who will serve the remaining two years of Cochran's term, since neither candidate was able to win more than 50 percent of the vote in a November 6 special election, according to the Clarion Ledger.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., at a Senate hearing in May. White says he received the video from a source. "Hyde-Smith's decision to joke about 'hanging, ' in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick".

A Republican activist who initially supported another candidate in the special U.S. Senate election said he will vote for Hyde-Smith in the runoff, even though he considers her a weak candidate.

Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississipi, released a statement Monday calling the senator's comments on public hanging "beyond disrespectful and offensive", adding that Mississippi's history includes "one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country".

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