Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) has doubled-down on her racially-motivated joke that she would attend a public hanging if one of her supporters had invited her to witness it.
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 clip 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
Hyde-Smith refused to apologize for her offensive statement.
“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.”
Instead of issuing an apology, Hyde-Smith said in a statement on Monday that she had already addressed her remarks.
When asked by a reporter if she was “familiar with Mississippi’s history of lynchings,” Hyde-Smith scoffed, refusing to acknowledge that her comments were deeply racist.
“I put out a statement on that yesterday,” the Senator said, “and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.”
When Hyde-Smith was pressed further on why her joke about lynching shouldn’t be interpreted negatively, the Senator regurgitated her previous talking point.
“I put out a statement on that yesterday and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.”
Watch the press conference clip below:
In today’s press conference receiving an endorsement from the National Right to Life President, @SenHydeSmith was only asked questions regarding her statement on “public hangings” this is what she and Gov. @PhilBryantMS had to say: #mssen #mselex pic.twitter.com/HuFZlNlq34
— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) November 12, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union slammed Hyde-Smith for using the dark history of racially-motivated hangings as a campaign joke.
“Hyde-Smith should be ashamed of herself,” ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley Collins and ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeff Robinson said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
“The fact that she chooses to use such repugnant language despite the ugly history in her state,” the ACLU said, “speaks to her lack of concern and knowledge about the experience of people who don’t look like her.”
“To celebrate the chance to sit in the front row of a public hanging demonstrates a profound ignorance of the state’s institutional legacy of racism,” the ACLU continued. “Sen. Hyde-Smith needs to be held accountable for her words.”
The backlash on social media has continued since Hyde-Smith’s “joke” first appeared online.
Supporters of her opponent, Congressman Mike Espy (D), with whom she faces a runoff election on November 27, want her gone.
To remove lynching enthusiast Cindy Hyde-Smith from the U.S. Senate, people can support Democratic nominee @espyforsenate in the November 27 special election with a donation at https://t.co/NGGwTB7IL6#MSSen #mssenate #Mississippi #MikeEspy #MikeEspyForSenate #CindyHydeSmith
— Mathew Helman (@MatHelman) November 13, 2018
— Bitter Lemon (@solonl2001) November 13, 2018
Hyde-Smith’s insensitivity to racial animus across the South is nothing short of jarring.