Republican Senator Caught on Tape Saying it's a 'Great Idea' to Make it 'More Difficult' for 'Liberal Folks' to Vote

Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi's appointed U.S. Senator, is under fire for the second time in under a week for comments made on the campaign trail ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Lamar White, Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief, posted the video to Twitter on Thursday evening. In the clip, Hyde-Smith can be heard speaking about voter suppression to a group standing outside her campaign tour bus.

"And then they remind me, that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea," Hyde-Smith says in the 18-second video.

According to Lamar, the clip was filmed on Nov. 3 in Starkville, Mississippi.

Cindy Hyde-Smith on voter suppression: "And then they remind me, that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea." Nov 2nd in Columbus, MS.

— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 15, 2018

The campaign appearance in Starkville came one day after Hyde-Smith made a stop in Tupelo, Mississippi, 65 miles north of Starkville. During the Tupelo appearance, the senator said she would attend a "public hanging" if invited by a Mississippi cattle rancher who appears with Hyde-Smith in the video.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.

Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy.

— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018

The first video sparked outrage from many in the public and was quickly condemned by Hyde-Smith's challenger in the special election for Mississippi's Class I U.S. Senate seat, Democrat Mike Espy.

Espy and Hyde-Smith, a Republican, are heading to a runoff election on Nov. 27 to replace longtime U.S. Senator Thad Cochran who retired from his post in April 2018 due to lingering health problems. Hyde-Smith was appointed to the post by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

Hyde-Smith's campaign released a statement an hour after the second video was posted, with campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan saying, "Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited."

Espy's campaign quickly responded with their own statement, with communications director Danny Blanton saying, "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter. Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state."

Hyde-Smith released a statement on Nov. 11 about the first video, saying that her comments on Nov. 2 were an "exaggerated expression of regard." Bryant also defended Hyde-Smith in a Nov. 12 press conference, telling reporters that he "knows this woman's heart" and that she meant no offense with her comment.

"All of us in public life have said things that we could have phrased better," Bryant said. "When you make as many speeches as we do in public life that does occur. ..I think we all realize that it's very easy for people to be offended and hurt by a number of things that could be said, but again I know her and everything is not about race."

Hyde-Smith and Espy are currently campaigning across Mississippi with a debate between the two candidates set for Nov. 20 in the state capital of Jackson. Both candidates finished in the regular election with 41% of the vote while Tea Party Republican Chris McDaniel earned 18%. In Mississippi, a winner must obtain 50% plus one vote to win and avoid a runoff election.

The campaign between the two candidates has featured a back and forth 'he said, she said' strategy involving email blasts and frequent television commercials broadcast across Mississippi.

However, while the two videos of Hyde-Smith have created a firestorm around her campaign, Espy's camp was hit with a report by Fox News on Thursday that detailed his acceptance of a payout in 2011 by then Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo's government.

The article was released hours before the video of Hyde-Smith appeared on Twitter.

"Now the liberal media wants to talk about anything other than Mike Espy's record of corruption and taking $750,000 - and lying about it - from an African dictator now charged with war crimes, including murder, rape, and torture," Scallan continued in the statement about the second video.

According to a 2011 article from The Hill, Espy said that he suspended the contract with Gbagbo after about a month, accepting only $400,000 of the $750,000.

Gbagbo is currently on trial for crimes against humanity in International Criminal Court.

However, documents obtained by Fox News from a 2011 FARA Supplemental Statement filed with the Department of Justice show that Espy accepted the full amount of the three-month contract.

"Secretary Espy worked on agricultural issues for international clients. Over the course of that work, he realized one of those clients didn't pass the smell test, so he terminated the contract, and then reported what he knew to the U.S. government," Blanton told Fox News.

Whether Espy or Hyde-Smith wins the race, it will be a historic result for Mississippi. A win for Hyde-Smith would make her the first woman elected to Congress in Mississippi. She is already in the history books as the first woman to serve Mississippi in any capacity in Congress.

For Espy, a win would make him the first black man to serve Mississippi in Congress since Reconstruction. He would also be the first Mississippi Democrat elected to a federal post since 1982.

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