Mississippi Senate incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) didn’t use the opportunity of an election win to express regret for making highly controversial statements throughout her campaign, instead saying that she’s a cowgirl who likes western movies.
When asked whether she regretted any of the racist remarks about public hangings and voter suppression, she said that she’s apologized and wants to move forward, then offered the following explanation:
“I’m a cowgirl and when a cowgirl references western movies that I’ve seen hundreds of, and somebody twists it, that’s just it, you’ve gotta roll with the punches.”
Hyde-Smith did apologize after joking that if a local rancher invited her to watch a public hanging she’d be in the “front row” to watch, but insisted that her words had been twisted for “political gain.” She didn’t issue an apology after implying that voter suppression was a “great idea” during a campaign stop at a local university.
“It’s ok to still have a sense of humor in America isn’t it?” she instead said in a now-deleted tweet. “These students enjoyed a laugh with Cindy despite out of state social media posts trying to mislead Mississippians.”
Not everyone agreed. Several big organizations asked her campaign to return their donations, a Mississippi Rhodes scholar labeled her a “white supremacist” and nooses were hung outside the Mississippi State Capitol one day before Tuesday’s runoff election “to remind people that times haven’t changed.”
Hyde-Smith still managed to defeat Democratic challenger Mike Espy despite the controversies.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Hyde-Smith’s remarks about the public hanging; she joked she’d attend a public hanging at the request of a local rancher, not a hanging of the rancher.