U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, in her first public appearance since a video surfaced Sunday in which she joked that she would attend a “public hanging,” dodged reporters’ questions about the firestorm.
Journalists asked Hyde-Smith eight questions about the controversial comment, but she declined to answer, each time stating, “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith blasted for ‘public hanging’ comments; she calls criticism ‘ridiculous’
The comments came at a press conference announcing the endorsement of a pro-life group for Hyde-Smith’s reelection bid.
On Nov. 27, Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy, who is seeking to become the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate in Mississippi history, in an officially nonpartisan runoff election. Espy denounced her comment via a statement Sunday afternoon and an appearance on CNN on Monday morning.
For her part, Hyde-Smith previously distributed a brief statement stating she, “used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
After numerous attempts Monday to get Hyde-Smith to elaborate, reporters directed questions to Gov. Phil Bryant, who stepped to the podium at Mississippi Republican headquarters and fielded questions as the senator stood beside him.
“I think that she is … addressing the fact that she has put out a statement,” Bryant said when reporters asked why the senator wasn’t answering questions. “I can tell you all of us in public life have said things on occasion that we could’ve phrased better. When you make as many speeches as we do in public life, that does occur. But I know this woman and I know her heart. I knew it when I appointed her, and I know it now. She meant no offense by that statement.”
Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today / Report for AmericaGovernor Phil Bryant, right, stands behind Republican interim Sen.