Mississippi US Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks to supporters after a runoff was declared between Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy.
Sarah Warnock, Clarion Ledger
A small crowd in Tupelo laughed after Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith joked about sitting on the front row of a public hanging if she were invited by a cattle rancher, a video published to Twitter shows.
Lamar White Jr., publisher of Bayou Brief in Louisiana, posted the 10-second video clip on his public Twitter account Sunday morning. It’s been viewed more than 700,000 times and has thousands of retweets.
Melissa Scallan, spokeswoman for Hyde-Smith, said the event where the video was recorded took place on Nov. 2.
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said in an embrace with Hutchinson, surrounded by supporters holding Hyde-Smith campaign signs, the video shows.
White said on Twitter that Hutchinson had just finished praising Hyde-Smith when she made the comment.
Hyde-Smith is in a runoff with Mike Espy for the Mississippi U.S. Senate seat previously held by Thad Cochran.
The runoff election is November 27.
People on Twitter had a lot to say about the video. Some who decried the comment voiced support for Espy.
One person urged local media to dig deeper into the video to see if Hyde-Smith’s comment aligns with her politics.
Cindy Hyde-Smith responds
Hyde-Smith released a statement about the video on Sunday afternoon.
“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” Hyde-Smith said in an email.
Mike Espy’s campaign responds
Espy’s campaign also responded to the video.
“Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible,” Campaign Communications Director Danny Blanton said in an email. “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgement to represent the people of our state.”
Hyde-Smith said on Friday she’s open to a public debate with Espy before the runoff election.
Clarion Ledger will update this report as more information is available.
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