Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith's campaign pushed back against opponent Chris McDaniel's renewed calls for a debate on Friday, accusing the Mississippi state senator and his supporters of "uncivil" and "horrific" behavior.
McDaniel, who is also a Republican, has pushed for months for Hyde-Smith to join him and their Democratic rival in a debate. She turned down invitations to two now-cancelled debates that were set for this month, citing a busy schedule in Washington, D.C., as the reason.
On Thursday, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a surprise fall recess, freeing Hyde-Smith up to return to Mississippi.
"Cindy Hyde-Smith can no longer hide behind the veil of Washington to save her from facing the Mississippi voters," McDaniel said in a Friday press release. "We know she'll be here in-state, so there's no reason she can't stand on a stage and defend her stances."
The Hyde-Smith campaign is "looking at her schedule," its communications director, Melissa Scallan, told the Jackson Free Press on Friday.
"If that's something that we can work in, there's a possibility we would do it," she said. "We won't be bullied by Chris McDaniel. We won't let him dictate what we do."
'We Don't Want a Repeat of the Neshoba County Fair'
Hyde-Smith, Scallan said, fears McDaniel and his supporters would not be "civil" at a debate.
"She's not at all opposed to discussing issues and answering questions, but if she thinks it's not going to be civil, then she's going to be reluctant to do it, and he only has himself to blame for that," Scallan said. "We don't want a repeat of the Neshoba County Fair."
In August, Hyde-Smith took the stage to speak at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., only to be met by an ongoing cascade of boos and jeers from a group of McDaniel supporters in the crowd.