Cindy Hyde-Smith: Republican senator says it's a 'great idea' to make it harder 'for liberal folks to vote'

Comments come after Mississippi politician says she would 'be on front row' to watch public hanging

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 16 November 2018 11:06 GMT
Moment Republican senator says it's a 'great idea' to make it harder 'for liberal folks to vote'

A Republican politician has been caught on video saying making it harder for liberals to vote is a “great idea”.

Cindy Hyde-Smith, a state senator in Mississippi facing a runoff election later this month, was filmed speaking to a small crowd in Starkville, a town 25 miles west of Columbus.

“And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote,” the 59-year-old said, in footage shared on social media.

“Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. So, I think that’s a great idea.”

Her comments came following a midterms election cycle engulfed by a series of voter suppression controversies – most notoriously in Georgia.

Ms Hyde-Smith’s campaign team told The Washington Post she was talking about the issue of polling stations on college campuses to a group of students on 3 November.

“That’s what she said was a great idea,” spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said. “Someone pointed out that college campuses were liberal and that’s when she made the joke about not wanting everyone to vote. That was a joke. The polling places on college campuses is what she said was a great idea.”

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

Ms Scallan claimed the video was "selectively edited" and accused the “liberal media” of using the controversy to avoid talking about Ms Hyde-Smith’s Democratic opponent, Mike Epsy.

The video, which was not edited, was posted on Twitter by local journalist Lamar White Jr, who earlier in the week shared footage of Ms Hyde-Smith telling a crowd at a separate event she would “be on the front row” if invited to a public hanging by one of her supporters.

Her campaign team insisted she was using “an exaggerated expression of regard”.

On Wednesday, three days after her comments on voter suppression were made public, it emerged Ms Hyde-Smith had accepted a $2,700 donation – the maximum individual contribution allowed – by Peter Zieve, who authorities say is a notorious racist.

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Mr Zieve is being sued by Washington state for discriminating against ethnic minority applicants and imposing his racist views on his employees at his aerospace company, Electroimpact.

Ms Hyde-Smith is facing Democrat Mike Epsy in a runoff on 27 November, after neither candidate won more than 50 per cent of the vote in a special four-way vote in the midterms.

“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 spokesman for Mr Epsy, said. “Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state.”

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