Cindy Hyde-Smith clears the air on ‘public hanging’ comment

Cindy Hyde-Smith clears the air on ‘public hanging’ comment
Cindy Hyde-Smith (Image: YouTube screen grab)

By Molly Prince

Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith apologized on Tuesday to those who were offended by a comment she made in jest about a public hanging and provided context to what she had originally said.

Hyde-Smith has been facing backlash since early November after she joked that she would “be on the front row” if a young man she knew invited her to a public hanging. The comment was seized upon by Democrats and other left-wing organizations to promulgate a racist narrative.

“At a campaign event, I had the opportunity to visit with a supporter who has a big piece of my heart. His mother and dad both died of cancer when he was in high school,” Hyde-Smith explained. “So to express my deep regard and my sincere commitment to this young man, I used a phrase. I told him that I would fight a circle saw for him. Well, obviously, I would not stick my arm in a circle saw. Nor did any of my comments ever mean that I would enjoy any type of capital punishment sitting there witnessing it.”

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While the Mississippi senator released a statement following the incident, calling it “an exaggerated expression of regard” and condemning those who tried to “turn this into a negative connotation,” Democrats have been using it as a way to rally black voters to show up at the polls on Nov. 27. (RELATED: Leading Up To The Mississippi Runoff, Democrats Make It All About Racial Identity)

“For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize — there was no ill-will, no intent whatsoever in my statements,” Hyde-Smith said. “In nearly twenty years of service of being your state senator, your commissioner of agriculture, and your U.S. senator, I have worked with all Mississippians — it didn’t matter their skin type, their age, or their income. That’s my record. There has never been anything, not one thing, in my background to ever indicate I had ill-will toward anyone.”

“I also recognize that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me, a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent,” Hyde-Smith continued. “That’s the type of politics Mississippians are sick and tired of.”

The race will be historic for Mississippi regardless of who wins — a Democratic win means that Mike Espy would be the state’s first black senator since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. Conversely, Hyde-Smith would be the state’s first female elected to the U.S. Senate; Hyde-Smith was appointed to the seat in 2018 after former GOP Sen. Thad Cochran resigned.

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