JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A white Republican U.S. senator from Mississippi has apologized for complimenting a supporter by saying she would attend a "public hanging" if he invited her to one.
In a debate Tuesday night, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said she was apologizing to anyone offended by her comments. She says she meant no "ill will" and said critics have "twisted" her words to use as a "political weapon" against her.
Hyde-Smith's Democratic challenger, Mike Espy, says the words came out of Hyde-Smith's mouth and were not twisted. He says her statement gave Mississippi a "black eye" it doesn't need.
Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings.
Espy, a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary, is seeking to become the state's first African-American senator since Reconstruction.
The winner of a Nov. 27 runoff gets the final two years of a term.