Mike Espy, Cindy Hyde-Smith Live Stream, Live Updates As Candidates Debate For Mississippi U.S. Senate Seat

Mississippi's special election for U.S. Senate is the only senate race remaining after the 2018 midterm elections. Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy each failed to earn a majority of votes in the Nov. 6 general election, forcing a runoff set for Nov. 27.

What could have been a quiet race has become embroiled in controversy after a video was released of Hyde-Smith saying she would attend a 'public hanging' if invited by a Mississippi cattle rancher during a campaign stop on Nov. 2. A second video, where Hyde-Smith speaks about suppressing liberal voters, was posted a few days later.

The initial comment was deemed reprehensible by Espy and other organizations. On Tuesday, Walmart asked Hyde-Smith to return a $4,000 donation to her campaign due to outrage over her comments from Nov. 2. The company has been joined by AT&T and Leidos.

Hyde-Smith was appointed to serve by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant after longtime U.S. Senator Thad Cochran resigned from his post in April 2018 over health-related issues. She is the first woman to serve Mississippi in Congress in any capacity.

Meanwhile, a win for Espy, a former agriculture secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, would see him become the first black man elected from Mississippi to Congress since Reconstruction.

Tonight's debate will mark the first time the candidates have met publicly on the campaign trail. A previous debate scheduled for October was canceled after Hyde-Smith failed to accept an invitation, prompting Espy to withdraw, leaving two additional candidates as the only participants.

On Nov. 7, Espy challenged Hyde-Smith to three debates ahead of the Nov. 27 runoff. However, this debate will be the only one held ahead of next Tuesday's election.

The Jackson Free Press reported on Tuesday that Hyde-Smith's requirements to participate in tonight's event included no live audience and no outside media at the debate.

By agreeing to Hyde-Smith's requests, the debate, which begins at 7 p.m. local time, will feature only a moderator and panelists.

The debate is sponsored by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. All of the company's top board members have donated to Hyde-Smith's campaign, the Jackson Free Press reported.

Check back for live updates from the debate.

7:02 p.m.: The candidates have chosen the order for opening and closing statements, as well as who will be given the first question. Espy and Hyde-Smith will have two minutes to answer questions and one minute for rebuttal.

Espy opens by saying he is for Mississippi first. "Mississippi over party, Mississippi over person, I don't care how powerful that person might be." He speaks of protecting seniors, giving opportunities for students to remain in the state after graduating college and protecting Mississippians with pre-existing health conditions to keep their insurance.

"I work with everyone regardless of race, religion or gender," Espy says.

7:04 p.m.: Hyde-Smith's opening statement includes letting Mississippians know that President Donald Trump will be coming to Mississippi to campaign for her and to go to buy tickets for rallies on Nov. 26 in Tupelo and Biloxi.

"Throughout this campaign I've always said it isn't about me, it is about you," Hyde-Smith said, highlighting protecting the Second Amendment and unborn children.

Hyde-Smith also speaks to highlighting the "clear differences" between herself and Espy and "protecting Mississippi's conservative values." She lists serving as U.S. Senator as one of the highlights of her life.

7:09 p.m.: Espy is asking about immigration reform and says that he opposes open borders but believes that immigration policy should be humane. Borders should be secured.

Hyde-Smith says that Trump's wall should be built and that the borders are dangerous.

7:10 p.m: Hyde-Smith is asked if wage stagnation is a problem. She responds by backing up her support for Trump's corporate tax cut. "Mississippi is enjoying President Trump's tax cuts and they are certainly working in this state," she says.

Espy disagrees, citing a 2.2% decline in wages in Mississippi.

"You should provide a tax policy that provides for those in the middle so everyone can benefit," Espy says.

7:11 p.m.: Espy is asked if he supports a single-payer healthcare system. He says no and cites problems Mississippi has by not accepting Medicaid reimbursements. Speaks about Hyde-Smith's vote against protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

Hyde-Smith says she has never voted for that type of bill, but that she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She adds that she doesn't know anyone with pre-existing conditions.

7:15 p.m.: Hyde-Smith is asked about her 'public hanging' comment and what is the positive connotation of what she said and if she will explain that or apologize for her words.

"For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will or no ill intent whatsoever in my comments," Hyde-Smith says.

She adds that she has worked with Mississippians of all races in her 20 years serving as a state senator.

"I recognize that this comment was twisted and turned into a weapon to use against me," Hyde-Smith says.

Espy responds by saying, "I don't know what is in your heart but I know what came out of your mouth." And that Mississippi was given another black eye by the stereotype generated by her comment.

"My comments were taken and twisted as a political weapon used against me by my opponent," Hyde-Smith says in rebuttal.

7:21 p.m.: Hyde-Smith is asked about finding a balance between the Second Amendment and violence in schools. Hyde-Smith says the problem is mental health.

"I will always protect your Second Amendment rights, if we want to address school shootings we need to do that with local law enforcement," Hyde-Smith says, adding she will never waiver on supporting a vote that protects the right to bears arms.

Hyde-Smith said Espy will support Chuck Schumer 100% of the time and that Espy is pretending to be a moderate.

Espy says he believes in the Second Amendment and that he owns pistols and shotguns and taught his wife and son how to shoot.

"Because of mass shootings....my thinking has evolved," Espy says, adding that those under no-fly lists shouldn't be allowed to own a gun without proper vetting.

7:24 p.m.: Espy is asking about Mississippi's teacher shortage and broadband access throughout the state. Espy says he will support more funding for education.

Hyde-Smith says that federal government should be removed from education and education in Mississippi public schools should be left to the local school districts. She adds that broadband internet is very important.

Hyde-Smith calls common core a disaster and reiterates that parents, teachers and local school districts should be managing schools.

7:28 p.m.: Hyde-Smith is asked if she supports any criminal justice reforms. She says she supports law enforcement and not criminals, but that there are some reforms that could be looked at.

Hyde-Smith says there are two types of criminals, a young kid you are mad at who did something stupid, and criminals that you are scared of. She then reiterates that she supports building the wall and that Espy doesn't,

"My opponent is too liberal for Mississippi and too liberal for law enforcement."

Hyde-Smith says she supports drug court, which has been successful in Mississippi.

Espy says he isn't for the wall, that it is very impractical. Espy says he believes in technology and using it to detect illegals crossing the border.

Espy adds that the question was about prison reform and that there are people in prison who should be there and others that shouldn't be there for 20 or 30 years for drug crimes and that there should be a responsible way to reduce those sentences.

7:32 p.m.: Espy is asked about transparency to constituents and media in Mississippi if elected.

Espy says he doesn't judge anyone and he will serve all Mississippians. He says the media serves a constitutional purpose and that anytime the media wants him in a press conference or to come to the podium that he will. He says he thought Hyde-Smith's refusal to answer questions during a press conference was horrible.

Hyde-Smith said that she is very accessible to her constituents and talks about Espy voting to gut the military and that he opposes anything related to Trump.

"He voted the democratic line straight down, 90% of the time," Hyde-Smith said, adding again that Espy wants to provide healthcare for illegal immigrants.

7:35 p.m.: Hyde-Smith is asked about changing things with the ACA. She says she wants to end the act and create a free market for insurance companies to support the rural hospitals in Mississippi that are struggling under the new act. She says Obamacare is the worst thing to happen to Mississippi.

"I support President Trump in his tax cuts and creating an environment where businesses can prosper," Hyde-Smith says.

Espy says Hyde-Smith is supporting a bill that allows patients with pre-existing conditions but not the condition itself after Hyde-Smith cites working on a healthcare bill to support pre-existing conditions.

7:41 p.m.: Hyde-Smith is asked about campaign finance reform and says that Mississippi has already passed laws to reform. She says she thinks the law is being applied and that Espy doesn't care about Mississippi because of his "liberal views" and that he has been hired by a foreign dictator for $750,000.

Hyde-Smith says it is amazing that someone is running for the U.S. Senate after working for someone on trial for "crimes against humanity," and that Espy lost a lawsuit for discriminating against someone with a pre-existing condition. She says she will protect Mississippi's conservative values.

Espy quips that he thought the question was about campaign finance reform and defends himself against Hyde-Smith's accusation about the pre-existing condition case.

7:44 p.m.: Espy is asking about crossing the asile to work with fellow senators and said he has already done it as a congressman. The first bill he wrote required him to sell the bill and he worked with Thad Cochran to get the bill to pass in the Senate and then to President Ronald Reagan.

Hyde-Smith says she will work across the aisle "only if it is good for Mississippians." She adds that we are all God's children and she will treat everyone like that and work with anyone if its good for Mississippi. If not, she will oppose them.

7:46 p.m.: Espy asks Hyde-Smith, via the moderator, about discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and questions her vote. She says she never voted against anyone with pre-existing conditions and encourages people to read the bill.

7:47 p.m.: Hyde-Smith asks Espy, via the moderator, about the $750, 000 payment from the Ivory Coast dictator and if he will admit he took the payment and if he will donate the money to a charity.

Espy explains that he worked for the Ivory Coast Cocoa Commission after he was asked to help lift the price of the beans and that he was asked to work for the President. Espy says he found out after accepting the contract how bad the guy was and that he resigned. During the course of that contract, he learned things intelligent services would be interested in and reported to them. Espy says Hyde-Smith voted against a bill for pre-existing conditions and tells her what she said in her previous answer is not true.

Espy did not say anything about giving the payment to charity.

7:51 p.m.: Hyde-Smith's closing statement consists of prompting Trump's two upcoming rallies for her and that viewers have heard two completely different views from herself and Espy. She says again that the race isn't about her, it's about Mississippians and protecting conservative values and unborn children.

She concludes by saying that she has the endorsement of Trump and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant but that she wants Mississippians endorsement.

"I'm the candidate that cares, I'm the candidate that has been there for six months, I'm the candidate that Donald J. Trump supports," Hyde-Smith says.

7:53 p.m.: Espy concludes by saying that Washington is broken and that Mississippians need someone to cross the aisle and work with others to bring Mississippians together.

"During this debate tonight, a lot of names have been slung around but one we must mention is Thad Chocran. We wish him well," Espy says.

Espy wishes Cochran well and hopes he can be a senator reflect of Cochran's legacy and that Hyde-Smith's comments in videos do not reflect the values of Mississippi. Mississippi needs to move forward and not be stuck in the past.

"I'll be the best senator you've ever had," Espy says.

Mike Espy, Cindy Hyde-Smith Live Stream, Live Updates As Candidates Debate For Mississippi U.S. Senate Seat | U.S.