Politico reports that Walmart has requested its campaign contribution to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R-Mississippi) be returned because of a recent quip about “public hangings.”
Hyde-Smith drew controversy for a bizarre incident earlier this month. At a campaign stop, Hyde-Smith, said of a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Hyde-Smith is facing off in a November 27 special election against Democrat Mike Espy, who is black.
Critics argued that her comment recalled, or made light of, the state’s ugly history of lynching. She said it was nothing of the kind. “I used an exaggerated expression of regard,” she explained. Heh. “Any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” she said.
Donald Trump, an expert in exaggerated expressions of regard, saw it her way. “She made a statement, which I know she feels badly about it, and it was just sort of said in jest.” He added that she was a “tremendous woman and it is a shame that she has to go through this.”
Hyde-Smith also drew headlines for another video that surfaced last week in which she said it would be a “great idea…to make it just a little more difficult” for certain people to vote. Her campaign said that she was just joking.
Walmart, under pressure about its contribution to Hyde-Smith, has withdrawn its support and is asking that its donation be refunded, Politico reports:
Several companies, including Walmart, have requested that their donations to Hyde-Smith’s campaign be refunded because of her “public hanging” comment, which she said was a joke. Walmart donated $2,000 to Hyde-Smith’s campaign on Nov. 18.
Here is the tweet from Walmart making the announcement today, responding to concerns raised by actress Debra Messing:
Hi Debra. Completely understand your concern. Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates. As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.
— Walmart (@Walmart) November 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Politico today reported on an old Facebook post in which Hyde-Smith poses for a photo in a Confederate soldier’s hat during a visit to the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, with the statement, “Mississippi history at its best!”