Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith slammed for ‘joking’ about voter suppression on college campuses

  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican battling for reelection in Mississippi, is under fire for saying that laws that “make it just a little more difficult” for liberal college students to vote are “a great idea.”
  • Hyde-Smith’s campaign said the remarks were “obviously” a joke and that a video of her comments was edited to misrepresent her comment.
  • This comes just days after Hyde-Smith was widely criticized for joking – in a video that went viral – that if she were invited to a public hanging, she’d “be on the front row.”

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican battling for reelection in Mississippi, is under fire for saying that laws that “make it just a little more difficult” for liberal college students to vote are “a great idea.”

The remarks, which Hyde-Smith’s campaign later insisted were made in jest, were caught in a video posted to Twitter.

“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. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult,” Hyde-Smith is shown telling a group of supporters outside her campaign bus in a video reportedly taken on Nov. 3.

Hyde-Smith’s campaign said the remarks were “obviously” a joke and that the video was edited to misrepresent her comment.

“Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited,” Melissa Scallan, spokeswoman for Hyde-Smith’s campaign, told the Washington Post.

Scallan claimed that Hyde-Smith’s comments were in response to a question about whether she would support opening polling places on college campuses and that she said campus polling places were “a great idea,” not voter suppression.

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

Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran last April, is facing a black Democrat, Mike Espy, who served as agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, in a Nov. 27 runoff election after both candidates received about 41 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 race.

Espy’s campaign responded that voting rights “are not a laughing matter.”

“Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state,” a spokesperson said.

Hyde-Smith’s comments drew significant criticism from progressives and online commentators, who argued that Mississippi’s dark and violent history of disenfranchising black citizens should disqualify any politician from making light of voter suppression.

“It’s hilarious to joke about voter suppression in a state with a history of African-Americans who wanted to vote facing terror like being fire bombed out of their homes or being mutilated and killed,” tweeted Elise Jordan, an anti-Trump conservative political commentator.

“A Mississippi senator joking about public hangings on the campaign trail and talking approvingly about targeted voter suppression. Huh, that sounds familiar,” tweeted Kevin Kruse, a professor of history at Princeton University.

This comes just days after Hyde-Smith was widely criticized for joking, in a video that went viral, that if she were invited to a public hanging, she’d “be on the front row.” The senator refused to clarify or apologize for the comment.