Speed Reads

Bad Humor

GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith 'jokes' about making it 'a little more difficult' for 'liberal folks' to vote

In a video posted Thursday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is captured saying at a Nov. 3 campaign stop: "And then they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea." Hyde-Smith, appointed earlier this year, is in a Nov. 27 runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy to fill the remaining two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) term.

Lamar White Jr., who posted both this video and the one where Hyde-Smith said if a supporter "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," said this is the only part of the clip he received. It was recorded in Starkville, during a Mississippi State University football game. It's not clear what "those other schools" are, CNN notes, but "Mississippi is home to several historically black colleges and universities, and black voters in the state overwhelmingly back Democrats."

"Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited," Hyde-Smith spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Thursday. (White told The Clarion-Ledger the video clearly wasn't edited, and "this is what she said, verbatim.") Scallan told The Washington Post that Hyde-Smith made her comment while "talking to four freshmen at Mississippi State University about an idea to have polling places on college campuses," and "that's what she said was a great idea." Her comment "was a joke," she added. "The senator absolutely is not a racist and does not support voter suppression."

Espy spokesman Danny Blanton said the "joke" wasn't funny: "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter." If you want a recap of Hyde-Smith's damage control on her "public hanging" comment, Late Night has a very stylized walkthrough below. Peter Weber