Analysis: Espy invites questions, Hyde-Smith begrudgingly engages with media


Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today / Report for AmericaMike Espy speaks to media after the Leaders Luncheon and Accountability Session at New Horizon Church Wednesday, November 14, 2018.
At least twice last week, Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy found himself surrounded by members of the media as he answered campaign questions.
On Saturday, Espy campaign aide Sam Coleman repeatedly said, “One last question. We have another appointment,” as journalists fired question after question, Espy answering each one.
None of the questions, though, were about Espy’s lobbying work for the Ivory Coast during a 2011 civil war, which resulted in its then president facing charge of murder, rape and torture at The Hague.
As Espy walked away, he got a question on that subject.
He paused: “I want to answer your questions.”
Juxtapose that with Espy’s opponent, Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who during public appearances, has refused to answer questions about her comments about sitting on the front row of a public hanging if a supporter asked her to attend.
Time and again during a news conference the day after the comments surfaced, she simply said the official statement her campaign released would be her only comment. A Washington Post story published over the weekend also noted that Hyde-Smith repeatedly deflected questions from the Capitol press corps, repeating, “We’ve already made a statement.”
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That sequence last week highlights the different strategies of the two candidates, who will vie in a runoff election Nov. 27 to replace long-time Sen. Thad Cochran, who resigned in March for health reasons.
The Espy campaign has embraced questions from the press. Hyde-Smith has begrudgingly interacted with the media.
That dynamic is among the many that make Tuesday night’s first and only debate between the two candidates so interesting. Both candidates