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.”
"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
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.”
— Mike Espy (@espyforsenate) November 21, 2018
Watch the whole debate below. The exchange begins at 14:30.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 21, 2018
Espy’s fiery rebuke was well-received on Twitter.
Mike Espy easily won this debate. How embarrassing Cindy Hyde-Smith was tonight. Please, don't embarrass us any further, Mississippi, and send @espyforsenate to be our Senator. We need that vote in the Senate. And America will fall in love with us.
— Ms Fisher (@Iwillnotfall) November 21, 2018
Excellent remark by Espy.
— Bee Art (@BeeArt27) November 21, 2018
She really needs to sit down. What is wrong with her supporters?
— Nikki (@ecosmartbydsign) November 21, 2018
Yeah it’s funny how all her big supporters keep supporting her until she’s exposed and now they all say they want their money back. Like Walmart for example
— Molly K (@MollyKurzbard) November 21, 2018
Thank you for being a decent human being. I appreciate you! 👍👍
— Lazaro Carreno (@lazcarr1342) November 21, 2018
You have a conscience. She has an agenda.
— Botocks Bollucks (@GuntherGill) November 21, 2018
Go Mike Espy!!
You are the ONLY CHOICE for Mississippi!!
— 🌊🌊Geo🌊🌊 (@Love747Jets) November 21, 2018
Hyde-Smith’s forced apology was not.
Out of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
— Donna writes (@CelebrityEditor) November 21, 2018
If you watch the clip Cindy Hyde Smith is reading her defense off of a piece of paper. Anyway, the fact that she won’t apologize shows the contempt she has for decency and honor and it’s made more insulting that she has to read her non-apology defense off a piece of paper.
— Mattchuto (@bumpywoot) November 21, 2018
The fact that Hyde-Smith had a pre-written apology came across as disingenuous.
Her response to the hanging comments was a written response, she read it. I believe she had access to the questions and apparently brought her notes with her to the stage. I understand she wanted a binder. One thing is certain – if Trump says “jump,” she most certainly will.
— KL Cole (@kl_cole) November 21, 2018
she had to read her "apology" off a queue card, after she twisted what she said in knots, talking about her comment being twisted around.
— 🚴♂️ 🌊 Kas S 🌊 🚴♂️ (@KASonaBike) November 21, 2018
Her joking about lynching is grave, hideous and inexcusable.
— sherie' franssen (@sheriemary) November 21, 2018
— griznation23 (@vbadbear) November 21, 2018
Never in my life have I heard anyone make references to public hangings or lynchings in jest. Who would do such a thing?? Good people of Mississippi: I want to believe you would vote for superior representation & leadership in the U.S. Senate by voting for Mike Espy. #MSSen
— Stephanie Kennedy (@WordswithSteph) November 21, 2018
Joking or not, cindy showed her true colors. Anybody voting for her will be undeniably ignorant.
— Tristan Knight (@TristanTKnight) November 21, 2018
“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.”