Voters in Mississippi are heading to the polls Tuesday to choose their new United States Senator in a runoff race that has become a beacon of racial division in the deep south.
Hyde-Smith's Democratic opponent, former Congressman & Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, has had to defend his honor and place in history as the Magnolia State's first black Congressman since Reconstruction.
The two candidates sparred in a single, closed-door debate just before Thanksgiving.
President Donald Trump stumped for Hyde-Smith on Monday and declared that Espy had no place in Mississippi.
“If we win tomorrow," the president boasted, "we’ll be at 53-47 which is substantially more than we had."
Trump knocked Espy as "far left" and "out there," despite Espy's record as a moderate to conservative Democrat.
As MAGA fans jeered, Trump snidely asked of Espy: "How does he fit in in Mississippi?”
On Tuesday morning, Espy responded to Trump's dig. Espy is Mississippi.
Espy went over his resume, which includes being elected as Mississippi's first black Congressperson four times and serving as President Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Agriculture, the first Mississippian to hold that post.
Espy also touted his grandfather's founding of Afro-American Sons & Daughters, a hospital that provided free health care to anyone who needed it from 1928 until it shut its doors in 1972.
Watch Espy's response below:
Espy after voting-> NBC: President Trump came to Mississippi yesterday & asked: 'How does he fit into Mississippi?'… https://t.co/ToA9MLsoR3— Vaughn Hillyard (@Vaughn Hillyard)1543338314.0
Espy's nephew Chuck, the mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, wrote an emotional defense of his uncle on Twitter Monday night.
"My uncle was the first AfAm Congressman since Reconstruction and first AfAm US Secretary of Agriculture," wrote the mayor. "How does Mike Espy fit into Mississippi? Mike doesn’t fit in; he lifts up.
@davidfrum @__kelcy @espyforsenate My dad was the first AfAm councilman and Mayor in Clarksdale. My uncle was the f… https://t.co/DNfh7mIUv4— Chuck Espy (@Chuck Espy)1543293128.0
Contrary to what Trump may want to believe, there is a lot of excitement swirling around Espy's Senate candidacy.
@VaughnHillyard @hardball I proudly voted for him this morning!!! I was born in Tennessee but I raised in Mississi… https://t.co/AezoVDPGSv— NamJiKook BUT also 2SeokTaegi (@NamJiKook BUT also 2SeokTaegi)1543338834.0
@VaughnHillyard @mitchellreports Impressive credentials.— Bunny 2020 🇺🇸🐇✌️ (@Bunny 2020 🇺🇸🐇✌️)1543341531.0
@VaughnHillyard @mitchellreports Very impressive— Amy Landrum (@Amy Landrum)1543342615.0
@blankslate2017 @christinawilkie Of course he is!— Mary Rose (@Mary Rose)1543291144.0
@christinawilkie @MalcolmNance Espy fits like a glove. Come on Mississippi make this happen. Get out tomorrow and v… https://t.co/258lzviSQv— Sayuri Silverman (@Sayuri Silverman)1543295235.0
Espy fits right in.
@christinawilkie @MaraLiasson He's only from there and has been elected to Congress there— Lauren (@Lauren)1543289432.0
@christinawilkie The actual question is, how does Cindy Hyde-Smith fit in with the 21st century? I mean, how does she fit in?— Chris Alexander🆘 (@Chris Alexander🆘)1543319226.0
Twitter tore into Trump for his disrespectful comments about Espy.
Memories of birtherism — the racist, Trump-championed effort that forced former President Barack Obama to flash his birth certificate — are still fresh in people's mind.
@christinawilkie I dunno, @realDonaldTrump. Maybe he fits in with Mississippi because he was born in Mississippi? R… https://t.co/FW5et5eZS9— Bernard Ohanian (@Bernard Ohanian)1543295237.0
@VaughnHillyard It’s tragic how he has to explain himself to a man who had no political resume before hijacking our… https://t.co/JyMMTtNYSZ— J.J. Hardy (@J.J. Hardy)1543339716.0
@VaughnHillyard After Trump’s arrogant comments last night in Mississippi saying, who is Mike ESPY? It would be so… https://t.co/BnidwMkJGj— TMW (@TMW)1543339318.0
To many, Trump's intent to ignite racial tension was obvious.
@christinawilkie I think he means, how does a person with intellect fit in with the majority of Mississippians?— Herrongate (@Herrongate)1543273358.0
@spivbilcaster @christinawilkie I think we all know what he meant. Seems Black & White, don’t you agree. 😩— JA in Texas ☀️ (@JA in Texas ☀️)1543273440.0
@joanneintexas @christinawilkie Mississippi has the highest percentage of black residents in the country so in all… https://t.co/VG08KEd4IZ— Herrongate (@Herrongate)1543274378.0
@christinawilkie There goes that code language again— Mr.Mak (@Mr.Mak)1543277037.0
@Boy1der22 @christinawilkie Doesn’t even seem coded at this point.— Kelly McCann (@Kelly McCann)1543293543.0
@christinawilkie @MalcolmNance Klan rally sans hoods— T.D. (@T.D.)1543290048.0
As has been the theme this election season, the contest between Espy and Hyde-Smith could be very close. Voter turnout is crucial.
Polls are open in Mississippi until 7:00 P.M local time.