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Republican Senator Who Joked About Attending a 'Public Hanging' Just Tried to Explain What She Meant, and She's Just Making It Worse TBH

A video surfaced over the weekend of Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith joking that she would have accepted an invitation to a public hanging from a supporter.

The clip shows Smith getting introduced to a crowd by local cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson, while standing in front of a statue of Elvis Presley in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi.


"If he invited me to a public hanging," Smith said of Hutchinson, "I'd be on the front row."

Watch the video below:

"There's no excuse to say what she said," Lamar White Jr. of The Bayou Brief, who published the video, told the Associated Press.

Hyde-Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate in April and faces Democrat Mike Espy, Mississippi's first black post-Reconstruction Congressman, in a runoff election on November 27. Smith and Espy both received 41 percent of the vote in the November 6 midterms.

Smith's remarks were swiftly condemned on Sunday after the video went viral.

"Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments are reprehensible," Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said. "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 judgment to represent the people of our state."

Hyde-Smith, however, has not apologized for her remarks and insists her comments were blown out of proportion.

"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."

Twitter exploded in response to Hyde Smith's comments.

The fact that the crowd expressed genuine laughter is disturbing.

Deplorable.

"Racist and sick."

Doug Stafford, the chief strategist for Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)'s PAC, was flabbergasted.

There's a word for public hangings - lynching.

Democratic strategist Keith Boykin posted a photo of what Hyde-Smith said she wanted to witness.

A history teacher noted that the last public lynching in Hyde-Smith's home of Brookhaven, which she represented in the state Senate, took place in 1928.

Hyde-Smith's joke about hanging, the teacher wrote, demonstrates a monumental ignorance of history.

Requests for information on how to donate to Espy began to fill Espy's Twitter feed.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson, a Mississippi native, said that Hyde-Smith should know better. He also blamed President Donald Trump and his racially-charged rhetoric. Hyde-Smith has Trump's endorsement.

"Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith's shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric," Johnson said in a statement. "Hyde-Smith's decision to joke about 'hanging,' in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. 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 hateful and hurtful."

Mississippi has not yet escaped its violent history against people of color, nor has it stopped marginalizing their voices.

"Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings of black people," ABC News noted on Sunday. "The NAACP website says that between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States, and nearly 73 percent of the victims were black. It says Mississippi had 581 during that time, the highest number of any state."