Mississippi senator Cindy Hyde-Smith releases statement on ‘public hanging’ comment

"Any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous”

VIDEO: Mississippi senator Cindy Hyde-Smith releases statement on ‘public hanging’ comment

TUPELO, MS (WLBT) - Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has released a statement regarding a comment she made that if the cattle rancher she was campaigning with “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. 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.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith

A video of the comment went viral Sunday.

In Smith’s statement, she says the video was filmed on Nov. 2.

“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said surrounded by rancher Colin Hutchinson and supporters at the gathering in Tupelo.

Lamar White Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief, tweeted the video of the comment Sunday.

The video has gone viral on social media. It has been viewed over 900,000 times with thousands of retweets and shares on Facebook, drawing harsh criticism from people around the nation.

Hyde-Smith is in a runoff with Mike Espy for the senate seat previously held by Thad Cochran.

Hyde-Smith was appointed to the seat by Gov. Phil Bryant in April. The current race between her and Espy will determine who serves the rest of Cochran’s term, through January 2021.

The runoff election will take place on Nov. 27.

Espy issued a statement, through his Campaign Communications Director Danny Blanton, on the comment, calling it “reprehensible."

“Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgement to represent the people of our state.”
Mike Espy

The Mississippi Democratic Party issued a statement saying:

Mississippians were shocked to hear Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s casual comments that if a supporter, who had just introduced her, “invited me to a public hanging I’d be on the front row.”

It is sad that Senator Hyde-Smith thought of, much less-used this language especially given our state’s past history. Senator Smith should immediately explain herself and then apologize to the entire state she wishes to continue to represent.

The ACLU of Mississippi issued a statement saying:

We will continue to follow this developing story.

Copyright 2018 WLBT. All rights reserved.