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:
"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.
Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy. pic.twitter.com/0a9jOEjokr
— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018
“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.”
Below is the Espy for Senate Campaign statement on Cindy Hyde-Smith's "public hanging" comments: pic.twitter.com/zccgQelDWt
— Mike Espy (@espyforsenate) November 11, 2018
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.
And her crowd of Republican supporters laughed and applauded at her “joke” about the public hanging.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) November 12, 2018
I wanna be surprised but I can’t be anymore.
— what would beanie sigel do? (@Katchin05) November 11, 2018
This is why they are, in fact, deplorable.
— LaneBrooks (@lanebrooks) November 12, 2018
I'd imagine it's dog-whistling.
— Barbètte⛾ (@barbetta1) November 12, 2018
“Racist and sick.”
If it weren’t in Cindy Hyde Smith’s mind, she wouldn’t say it. She could have said she’d go to Mars to speak if invited. But instead she chose the image of a hanging. Racist and sick.
— Jan Girando (@jgirando) November 12, 2018
Doug Stafford, the chief strategist for Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)’s PAC, was flabbergasted.
What the hell. https://t.co/8bgrpi1ZEI
— Doug Stafford (@dougstafford) November 11, 2018
There’s a word for public hangings – lynching.
I am trying to remember the word they used to use in Mississippi for public hangings…..it starts with an “L.”
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) November 11, 2018
Democratic strategist Keith Boykin posted a photo of what Hyde-Smith said she wanted to witness.
Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said recently she'd be "in the front row" of "a public hanging." She's now in a runoff election on Nov. 27 against Mike Espy, a black man.
This is what it looked like when white people stood in the front rows of public hangings in the past. pic.twitter.com/zIgaI1LH4R
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) November 11, 2018
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.