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WATCH: Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Says ‘There’s a Lot of Liberal Folks in Those Other Schools Who Maybe We Don’t Want to Vote’

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Hyde-Smith’s joke during her runoff campaign about attending a public hanging drew heavy criticism given Mississippi’s history of lynchings and public executions of African Americans.

Video of Hyde-Smith’s remark was uploaded online by Lamar White Jr., the same journalist who recorded her comments on voter suppression.

“I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

When pressed further if she was aware of Mississippi’s history of public lynchings, Hyde-Smith only said: “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Hyde-Smith has been endorsed by President Donald Trump. She is facing Espy in the runoff to determine who will serve the remaining two years of Republican Senator Thad Cochran’s term after he opted to step down due to health problems. Neither candidate earned 50 percent of the vote in the special election on November 6. If Epsy wins the runoff, he will become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since the Reconstruction era.

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