MS senator under fire over 'public hanging' comment

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

She is facing a run-off later this month against a black Democrat in a state with a history of race killings.

Mississippi's Senate race hasn't come to an end - and neither has the controversy surrounding comments one candidate made about a "public hanging".

Journalists asked Hyde-Smith eight questions about the controversial comment, but she declined to answer, each time stating, "I put out a statement yesterday, and that's all I'm gonna say about it".

Many critics of the comments pointed to Mississippi's long history of racism and noted that the state had the highest rate of lynchings of African Americans in the country during the Jim Crow era, according to a report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

In August, President Trump endorsed Hyde-Smith over another Republican in Mississippi's State Senate, Chris McDaniel.

Republicans have been counting on a Hyde-Smith victory over Espy as they try to expand their Senate majority.

Derrick Johnson, the national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who comes from MS, denounced the remark of Hyde-Smith, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, as "shameful".

Hyde-Smith herself released a statement in her defense, claiming she was speaking in exaggerations when she said that if the cattle rancher she was campaigning with had "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row".

Hyde-Smith defended her comments in a statement to media outlets later in the day, saying there were simply an "exaggerated expression of regard" and that any "attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous".

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Hyde-Smith is in a runoff race against former Democratic representative Mike Espy.

"There's no excuse to say what she said", White said.

The now viral video was posted on Twitter Sunday by Lamar White Jr., publisher of a progressive site in Louisiana called The Bayou Brief. Statistics from the NAACP show that almost one-eighth of the nation's 4743 lynchings between 1882 and 1968 took place in Mississippi.

On Twitter, Johnson later said that Hyde-Smith's response to the controversy was "tone deaf and demonstrates disregard" for the state's history.

She's battling Espy to determine who will serve the remaining two years of Cochran's term, since neither candidate was able to win more than 50 percent of the vote in a November 6 special election, according to the Clarion Ledger.

Hyde-Smith is challenged by former congressman and former US agriculture secretary Mike Espy.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row", Republican Sen.

For AP's complete coverage of the USA midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics.

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