GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Poses In Confederate Hat After Joking About ‘Public Hangings’
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the incumbent GOP Senator for Mississippi who suffered a serious blow to her reelection campaign after a series of damaging public statements and photos came to light, now claims that her own words are being used against her as “a political weapon.”
Hyde-Smith attempted to address the inflammatory comments she had made about “public hanging” and voter suppression during a debate against her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy.
Hyde-Smith apologized for anyone offended by her racially charged rhetoric, but not for the actual content of her comments. On Tuesday, a photo of Hyde Smith wearing a Confederate hat was posted to social media.
“For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize,” she said, reading from her prepared remarks at the debate. “There was no ill will, no intent, whatsoever in my statements.”
The Republican incumbent went on to accuse Espy, the former agricultural secretary under Bill Clinton, of twisting her words into a political attack.
“I also recognize that this comment was twisted, and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me,” she said. “A political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent. That is the type of politics Mississippians are sick and tired of.”
“Well, no one twisted your comments because your comments were live. You know, it came out of your mouth. I don’t know what’s in your heart, but we all know what came out of your mouth,” Espy said in response. “It’s given our state another black eye that we don’t need. It’s just rejuvenating those stereotypes that we don’t need anymore.”
Hyde-Smith’s comments were made during a campaign stop in Tupelo just days before the November 6 midterms. While speaking about a man in the crowd who praised her efforts, Hyde-Smith told her cheering supporters, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Days later, a video surfaced showing the Senator seemingly supporting voter suppression while speaking to supporters in Starkville.
“There’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea,” Hyde-Smith said in the video.
But that video wasn’t the end of it. In the hours before her debate with Espy, Facebook photos of Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate hat with the caption “Mississippi history at its best” were discovered by Politico.
The Mississippi race was forced into runoffs as no candidate managed to secure more than 50 percent of the electorate. The Republican vote was split by the two GOP candidates running for the Senate seat, which left Hyde-Smith with 41.4 percent of the vote with Espy close behind with 40.6.
If Espy wins the race, he will become the first Democratic member of Congress from the Magnolia State since 1982, and the first African American Senator from Mississippi since the late 1800’s.