GOP senator facing criticism over 'public hanging' remark

Clay Curtis
November 13, 2018

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".

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.

A newly published video shows Sen.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row", Hyde-Smith said on Sunday morning in Tupelo, Miss. during an event with a cattle rancher.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews noted that in response to the comments going viral, the senator who was appointed by the state's governor in April 2018 after the resignation of longtime Sen.

Hyde-Smith is in a runoff with Mike Espy for the senate seat previously held by Thad Cochran.

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. If Espy wins, he would become the first black senator to represent the state since the Reconstruction era.

"Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments are reprehensible", Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said in a statement Sunday.

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The NAACP has since excoriated Hyde-Smith's remarks and blamed Donald Trump for creating a toxic atmosphere in which such incendiary rhetoric would be tolerated. Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing criticism from her African-American opponent and from civil rights groups over a comment she made about "a public hanging" in the days leading into Election Day.

The video was shot in Tupelo, in front of a statue of Elvis Presley, who was born in the city in northeastern Mississippi.

During an appearance on CNN, Espy was asked if the comment was racist.

A representative for Hyde-Smith did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.

"To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish people and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hurtful and harmful", Johnson said in a statement.

Ms Hyde-Smith defended herself, explaining she "used an exaggerated expression" and "any attempt to turn it into a negative connotation is ridiculous".

At an October 2 rally in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump continued to stump for Hyde-Smith. I knew it when I appointed her, and I know it now.

"These comments from a sitting USA senator have harmed our state and it's just - you know, we have to get beyond this now", he added. "There was nothing in her heart of ill-will".

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