Shortly before jetting off to Florida for the holidays yesterday, President Donald Trump spoke up for Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is facing extreme backlash for making a comment about sitting “front row” to a public hanging, saying she is a “spectacular woman” who has done a “fantastic job in a short period of time,” USA Today reported.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, a video recently surfaced of the senator during an event in Tupelo, Mississippi, praising cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson and saying that if “he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
President Trump was questioned about the comments from the senator, whom he will be holding at least two campaign rallies for in Mississippi to support Hyde-Smith in her runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy.
“She made a statement, which I know that she feels really bad about it, and was just sort of said in jest,” he said. “She’s a tremendous woman and it’s a shame that she has to go through this.”
Later Tuesday night during a debate between the two candidates for the Mississippi Senate position, the Washington Post noted that Hyde-Smith finally offered up an apology for the November 2 comment.
“You know, for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements,” she said. “I have worked with all Mississippians. It didn’t matter their skin color type, their age or their income. That’s my record.”
The apology comes more than a week after Hyde-Smith refused to apologize for the comment during an event on November 12, as reported by CBS, but instead repeatedly told inquiring reporters that she stood by the statement she had issued the night before that explained that what she said was an “exaggerated” expression of friendship and that the attempt to give it a “negative connotation is ridiculous.”
She explained during the debate on Tuesday night that her opponent turned her comment into a “political weapon” that was “twisted” and used for “nothing but personal and political gain.”
Espy–who is campaigning to become the state’s first black senator since shortly after the Civil War–responded by explaining that there was no way he “twisted” her comments because they were “live” as she spoke them.
“It’s given our state another black eye that we don’t need. It’s just rejuvenated old stereotypes, you know, that we don’t need anymore,” he said.
He also cited companies that have since distanced themselves from Senator Hyde-Smtih, such as Walmart, who the Inquisitr noted demanded a refund for their donations made to the candidate.
These harmful comments perpetuate harmful stereotypes about our state. We can't afford a senator who embarrasses us. #MSSen— Mike Espy (@espyforsenate) November 21, 2018
The runoff between Espy and Hyde-Smith will be held on November 27.