Hyde-Smith slams Espy lobbying deal in Africa, draws new fire for ‘joke’ about making liberal voting harder

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Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for AmericaAs a run-off between former U.S Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy and U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith becomes more likely, the candidates are embracing their historic potential of their candidacies
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, already reeling from a controversial comment released earlier this week, downplayed a newly released comment she made earlier this month in which she suggested making voting “a little more difficult” for certain “liberal folks.”
A video published Thursday evening by Louisiana political blogger Lamar White Jr. shows Hyde-Smith standing outside her campaign bus at a Nov. 3 event in Starkville, on the edge of the Mississippi State University campus.
“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,” Hyde-Smith said to supporters. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. So I think that’s a great idea.”
It is unclear to whom Hyde-Smith is referring in the 17-second-long video. The Hyde-Smith campaign did not respond to a question about which schools she was referring to in the video.
Hyde-Smith made the comment on the same weekend that she said she would attend “a public hanging,” at a supporter’s invitation. The comment caused a firestorm and thrust race to the forefront of her runoff campaign versus Democrat Mike Espy, who’s running to become the state’s first African American ever elected to the U.S. Senate. It also renewed national interest in the runoff, leading to an influx in national contributions to both campaigns.
Influential Mississippians suggested on Thursday evening that Hyde-Smith’s comment was racially motivated. Mississippi State University, where Hyde-Smith made the comment, is 71 percent white. Just 18 percent of the Starkville campus’ student body is African American. The state is home to seven historically black colleges and universities.
“Obviously Sen.