7 nooses found by Mississippi Capitol before Senate runoff

7 nooses found by Mississippi Capitol before Senate runoff

Like a lot of Mississippi Republicans, Smith seems willing to forgive the senator for some of the eyebrow-raising remarks she's made in recent weeks.

The last U.S. Senate race of the midterms was coming to a close Tuesday as MS residents chose between a white Republican Senate appointee whose "public hanging" comments angered many people and a black Democrat who was agriculture secretary when Bill Clinton was in the White House. She said of her decision to have a child later in life, "At 39 years old, I knew I wanted a child".

"We need more women in Congress, and I think we're slowly getting there", she said.

The signs include references to Hyde-Smith's comments on the campaign trial about attending a "public hanging". They say surveys have consistently shown her with a lead ranging from the mid-single digits to the low double digits.

At a 20 November debate, Ms Hyde-Smith gave a qualified apology to anyone she had offended, while adding that opponents had "twisted" her words "as a political weapon".

Hyde-Smith has drawn fire for a 2014 photo showing her wearing a replica hat of a Confederate soldier, and a video from last month showing her praising a supporter by saying, 'If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row'.

President Trump plans to hold two rallies in MS on Monday in support of Hyde-Smith. Tuesday's victor will serve the last two of Cochran's six-year term.

After Republican Senator Thad Cochran resigned in April, a special election for Mississippi's US Senate seat began. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy in the last Senate race to be decided in 2018.

"I am honoured to have President Trump's endorsement", she said as the two appeared at a chilly outdoor rally at the airport in the northeastern city of Tupelo, best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley.

Donald Trump during a rally for Cindy Hyde-Smith
Donald Trump during a rally for Cindy Hyde Smith

Federal and state authorities are investigating seven nooses found hanging from trees outside the Mississippi Capitol on Monday, along with handwritten signs that referred to the Senate runoff and the state's history of lynching.

Espy, an attorney, said: "I found out later that this guy, the president, was a really bad guy".

MS voters will head to the polls in the final midterm race of the election season. One of the signs says MS needs a senator "who respects the lives of lynch victims".

Still, White House officials have long expressed unease about Hyde Smith and worry that she wasn't ready for prime time.

Addressing his supporters Tuesday night, Espy said: "While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi".

In the final weeks of the runoff, Hyde-Smith's campaign said the remark about making voting hard was a joke.

Hyde-Smith is in a tight runoff Tuesday against Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton. "I wish we could be like Alabama who had enough with Roy Moore, you know".

But in MS, the only state that still has Confederate insignia on its flag, allegations of racism don't carry the same political toxicity as accusations of sexual impropriety that involve minors. Lindsey Graham, the tiger of the fight to confirm Justice Kavanaugh, who reminded the crowd of Hyde-Smith's vote on then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the senate seat after Cochran retired. "I was going to vote for Mike Espy anyway".

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