Interim Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) lashed out at critics of her statements about attending a "public hanging" -- remarks that were widely viewed as a reference to lynchings -- during the final debate in the Mississippi runoff election for United States Senate.
"For anyone who was offended, I certainly apologize. There was no ill-will, no ill-intent whatsoever in my statement," she argued.
Then she lashed out at critics.
"I also recognize that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me -- a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent," she alleged.
"It's caused our state harm, it's given our state another black eye that we don't need," her opponent, Mike Espy, replied.
"My comments were taken and twisted and used as a political weapon against me by my opponent and that is just wrong," she said.
Hyde-Smith has refused to answer questions on the scandal. She also accepted $2,700 from a notorious white supremacist, appeared to support voter suppression, and was caught wearing a Confederate hat at the former home of Jefferson Davis.
Her opponent, Mike Espy, previously said her public hangings comments were not only “disappointing to millions of Mississippians of good will,” but also were “very harmful.”
“It again reinforces stereotypes that we’ve been trying to get away from for decades,” he continued. “Stereotypes that just continue to harm our economy and costs us jobs.”
The comments by Hyde-Smith have tightened the race so much that President Donald Trump is traveling to Mississippi to stump for the Republican-appointed senator on Monday -- the day before the election.