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Mike Espy Just Confronted Cindy Hyde-Smith Over Her 'Public Hanging' Remarks in a Debate, and Her New Response Is a Thing to Behold

Former Congressman Mike Espy (D-MS) ripped into incumbent Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) Tuesday night over racially-charged remarks Hyde-Smith made during a campaign stop right before the midterm elections.

During a closed-door debate between Espy and Hyde-Smith, who face a runoff election for U.S. Senate on November 27, Espy said Hyde-Smith gave their state "another black eye" when Hyde-Smith joked to a supporter: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”


After the video surfaced, Hyde-Smith quickly whined that what she said had been taken out of context. There was, as yet, no humility.

“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.”

On Tuesday, Hyde-Smith attempted to downplay her remarks by insisting that her words were

"twisted" and "turned into a weapon to be used against me."

Reading from a piece of paper, Hyde-Smith reluctantly said: "I certainly apologize."

Espy wasn't buying it.

"No one twisted your comments because the comments were live," Espy rebutted. "They came out of your mouth. I don't know what's in your heart — but we all know what came out of your mouth, and it went viral within in the first three minutes around the world."

Watch the whole debate below. The exchange begins at 14:30.

Espy's fiery rebuke was well-received on Twitter.

Hyde-Smith's forced apology was not.

The fact that Hyde-Smith had a pre-written apology came across as disingenuous.

Espy continued:

"It's caused our state harm. It's given our state another black eye that we don't need. It's just rejuvenated old stereotypes that we don't need anymore. We have companies like Walmart that wrote to you today and told you that your comments did not reflect the values of that company."

When asked to reply, Hyde-Smith blamed Espy for the backlash sparked by her public hanging gaffe and then doubled-down on her words being "twisted."

Hyde-Smith said she "never meant anyone any ill-will" in her remarks. "It was never there," she insisted.

"My comments were taken and twisted and used as a political weapon against me by my opponent," Hyde-Smith complained. "And that is just wrong, it is unfortunate, and that's the type of politics Mississippians are tired of."

Prior to the start of the debate, which was sealed off to reporters except those selectively invited at the request of Hyde-Smith, the Senator demanded her notes, despite having agreed to no cheat sheets until the debate began.

Jackson Free Press reporter Ashton Pittman, who was in attendance, noted that Hyde-Smith looked down at her podium to read from prepared answers at least 20 times.

The difference between the two candidates' paper piles was stark.

Hyde-Smith also messed up telling voters the date of the election - which is November 27 - when she told people to vote on November 22.

If elected, Espy would be Mississippi's first black Senator.