Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott accused GOP Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of using a racial “dog whistle” after her comments about attending a public hanging.
“I was speaking to voters in Mississippi yesterday and they believe that it was a clear dog whistle,” Scott, who covers identity politics, said on “MSNBC Live” Thursday. “Sen. Hyde-Smith is not an ignorant person. She knows that black people would be offended by a comment about lynching. But the reality is, she also knows that there are perhaps voters who would see her words as a signal to what she would stand behind in terms of politics and policy.”
“Race is a major issue right now nationally,” Scott continued. “We find ourselves talking about protests among NFL players, immigration issues and other policy issues that define race as a bedrock of these concerns. And so when she says things like that, it sends an indicator to some voters, voters she wants to support her, where she will fall when forced to choose between certain matters.” (RELATED: Cindy Hyde-Smith Clears The Air On ‘Public Hanging’ Comment)
Hyde-Smith faced media backlash after saying she would “be on the front row” if invited to a public hanging. She apologized for the comments on Tuesday and claimed they were misconstrued for political purposes.
“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.”
“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 20 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,” she concluded. “That’s the type of politics Mississippians are sick and tired of.”
Hyde-Smith is set to face Democrat Mike Espy in a runoff election Nov. 27.
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