VIDEO: Governor Phil Bryant defends Cindy Hyde Smith after public hanging comment

This was Hyde-Smith’s first public appearance since a video was released in which many say she made a racist comment

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Cindy Hyde-Smith is standing by her statement released Sunday regarding her comments about a public hanging made earlier this month while on the campaign trail.

Governor Phil Bryant and Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke at the Right to Life event in Jackson at the GOP headquarters on Monday. This was Hyde-Smith’s first public appearance since a video was released, that has since gone viral, in which many say she made a racist comment.

“We put a statement out yesterday and we stand by that statement,” Hyde-Smith said to media Monday.

When asked what she meant by that statement, she once again replied, “I put out a statement yesterday and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Governor Bryant came to Hyde-Smith’s defense during the press conference, “All of us in public life have said things on occasion that we could have phrased better. But I know this woman and I know her heart."

“In a political campaign, people can make anything you say what they want it to say. They can spin it,” Governor Bryant continued.

“Absolutely we have been sensitive to race relations in the state,” he said. “I brought the President of the United States here to open the Civil Rights Museum. Had African American leadership that would fail to even come to the event because the President of the United States was there.”

WLBT and other members of the Jackson media continued to press the Governor and Senator Hyde-Smith for an explanation.

WLBT’s Courtney Ann Jackson asked the Governor, “Campaign aside - she’s a sitting United States Senator. I think that we’re looking for an explanation or some context from either of you about the fact that in the statement, it said it should not be taken with a ‘negative' connotation. Perhaps, we’re just looking for an explanation of how it could have a positive connotation...any type of public hanging?”

“Again, I’m not going to try to relive the statement,” Governor Bryant answered. “I can tell you there was no ill will in her heart. There never has been. There never will be. And today she is, we are, proud of being endorsed by the National Right to Life so we can stop the genocide of babies across America."

Jackson political reporter, Gerald Harris, further pressed the issue, “It doesn’t answer the questions and concerns. We’re going to continue to ask these questions until you, with all due respect, address the question. What context did you say that in?”

“We did address it yesterday,” Senator Hyde-Smith replied as she and the Governor left the podium.

Hyde-Smith did release a statement Sunday regarding the comment she made that if the cattle rancher she was campaigning with “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith

The viral video of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comment, which was filmed November 2, showed Hyde-Smith at a gathering with her supporters in Tupelo.

She can be heard in the video saying to a crowd, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”.

The video has gone viral on social media. It has been viewed over 3.39 million times with thousands of retweets and shares on Facebook, drawing harsh criticism from people around the nation.

Hyde-Smith is in a runoff with Mike Espy for the senate seat previously held by Thad Cochran. The runoff will be held on November 27.

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