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"Maybe We Want to Make It Just a Little More Difficult": GOP Senator on College Students Voting
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=48285"><span class="small">Emily Stewart, Vox</span></a>   
Friday, 16 November 2018 13:54

Stewart writes: "Days after raising eyebrows with a campaign trail joke about attending a 'public hanging,' Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is now facing backlash for saying it might be a good idea to 'make it just a little more difficult' for college students to vote."

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on Capitol Hill in April 2018. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on Capitol Hill in April 2018. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)


"Maybe We Want to Make It Just a Little More Difficult": GOP Senator on College Students Voting

By Emily Stewart, Vox

16 November 18


Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said her voter suppression comment was just a joke.

ays after raising eyebrows with a campaign trail joke about attending a “public hanging,” Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is now facing backlash for saying it might be a good idea to “make it just a little more difficult” for college students to vote.

Her campaign says that one was all in good fun, too.

Lamar White Jr., the publisher of the Bayou Brief, a nonprofit news site in Louisiana, tweeted a video on Thursday showing Hyde-Smith speaking with a small crowd in Starkville, Mississippi, in early November. “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,” she says in the video. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

Sen. Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the Senate this year to replace retiring incumbent Thad Cochran, is facing Democrat Mike Espy in a runoff on November 27. Espy is a former member of the US House of Representatives and served as the secretary of agriculture under President Bill Clinton.

Many onlookers, including White Jr., took Hyde-Smith’s comments as an expression of support for voter suppression.

Hyde-Smith’s campaign quickly responded that it was all a joke, and that anyone who said otherwise was overreacting.

“Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited,” Melissa Scallan, a spokesperson for the campaign, said in a statement to multiple media outlets.

In an email to the Washington Post, she said Hyde-Smith’s comments, made on November 3, were made to four college freshman at Mississippi State University about having polling places on college campuses. She said that’s what Hyde-Smith thought was a great idea, but then she pointed out that college campuses were liberal and made the joke about not wanting votes.

“The senator absolutely is not a racist and does not support voter suppression,” Scallan said.

Hyde-Smith’s “jokes” keep getting her in trouble

Hyde-Smith’s opponent had a different read on her joke.

“For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter,” Danny Blanton, a spokesperson for Espy’s campaign, said in a statement. “Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state.”

This isn’t the first time one of Hyde-Smith’s supposed jokes on the campaign trail has gotten her into hot water. Another video, also posted by White Jr., depicted Hyde-Smith telling a man on November 2 that if he “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Mississippi has a deep history of public lynching.

Hyde-Smith again brushed the comment off, saying she had used an “exaggerated expression of regard” and that “any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

Espy, who is black, in a statement called Hyde-Smith’s comments “reprehensible” and said they have “no place in our political discourse” in Mississippi or in the US.

Hyde-Smith hasn’t commented further. When asked at a press conference on Monday if she knew about Mississippi’s history with lynching, she said her statement was “all I’m going to say about it.” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant defended her by trying to change the subject to abortion in the black community.

After Espy’s team responded to her voter suppression joke on Thursday, Hyde-Smith hit back, again saying it was all made in jest and that her opponents are overreacting. “It’s OK to still have a sense of humor in America isn’t it?” she asked.

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Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2018 14:06