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Nov. 15, 2018 / 11:43 PM GMT / Updated 12:25 AM GMT
By Allan Smith
A video surfaced Thursday of Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi saying it might be a “great idea” to make it harder for some people to vote, and her campaign quickly responded that she was “obviously” joking.
Hyde-Smith, who is in a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy on Nov. 27, made the remark at a campaign stop in Starkville, Mississippi, on Nov. 3. It was posted to Twitter on Thursday by Lamar Smith Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief. Smith earlier this week posted video of Hyde-Smith making a comment on Nov. 2 about a “public hanging” that started a controversy.
“And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who … maybe we don’t want to vote,” Hyde-Smith is heard saying. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
Melissa Scallan, a spokeswoman for Hyde-Smith’s campaign, said in a statement shortly after the video was posted that the senator “obviously” was “making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited.”
Danny Blanton, a spokesman for Espy’s campaign, called Hyde-Smith a “walking stereotype who embarrasses our state.”
“For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter,” Blanton said in a statement.
The episode comes after that first controversial video was posted to Twitter on Sunday. In that video, Hyde-Smith is heard saying during a campaign stop in Tupelo on Nov. 2 that if the man who was next to her, later identified as a local rancher, “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Critics said the comment had a racial connotation in the context of Mississippi’s history of lynching. Hyde-Smith said in a statement soon after the remark was posted that she “referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement” and “used an exaggerated expression of regard.”
“Any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” she added.
Hyde-Smith then faced repeated questioning about the comment when she appeared Monday at a news conference alongside Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to announce an endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion rights group. She deferred to her initial statement and refused to comment further.