Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi TodaySen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) interacts with supporters during a Farmers for Cindy Hyde-Smith event at Wade Inc. in Greenwood Friday, September 7, 2018.
Despite mounting pressure to debate her opponents before Election Day, Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith believes there is a better way to get up close and personal with voters.
“We are doing a bus tour … through the state. We’re taking our message to (voters) and they can come ask me any question that they want to ask me. I just think that’s more beneficial (than debating),” Hyde-Smith told Mississippi Today when asked about the possibility of a debate on Tuesday.
Although her two main rivals in the Nov. 6 special election—state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, and former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy—have both said they would be willing to debate her at a moment’s notice, Hyde-Smith has never committed to participating in one, citing a busy Capitol Hill schedule.
Hyde-Smith’s reluctance to commit to debates came into renewed focus earlier this week in a video McDaniel’s campaign circulated to news media. In the video, Hyde-Smith, whom Gov. Phil Bryant appointed this spring, takes a departure from previous public statements she and her campaign officials have made about needing to remain working in Washington, D.C.
“Right now, my opponent does not have enough money to get on TV and my guys are saying that’s like handing him a $200,000 campaign donation because he’s way down in the polls,” Hyde-Smith says to an unidentified woman in the video. “He’s wanting the TV time.”
Hyde-Smith can also be heard on the video criticizing organizers of two separate debates for not checking the Senate calendar before scheduling the events.
One of them was scheduled to take place Oct. 4 at Millsaps College in Jackson. Espy and McDaniel, along with Tobey Bartee of Gautier, confirmed their participation.