Michael Smith, Cindy Hyde-Smith's Husband

Michael Smith, Cindy Hyde-Smith's Husband

Michael Smith, Cindy Hyde-Smith's Husband

MS voters will head to the polls in the final midterm race of the election season. The discovery comes just before Tuesday's runoff election between Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, and Republican Sen. Hyde-Smith accused Democrats of weaponizing the "public hanging" remark and said she would apologize to anyone who was offended by it.

The comments triggered a political firestorm in a state that has a history of racism and lynchings and was a flashpoint in America's civil rights struggle. Black voting groups are working to turn out voters in the wake of her statements.

And the Jackson Free Press reported over the weekend that Hyde-Smith had attended an all-white private school - one of many founded after the Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate as a way to get around the high court's mandate to integrate public schools. The Mississippi lawmaker has since said her comment was made in jest and denied any racial connotation.

Those comments aren't the only ones that have raised questions about Hyde-Smith and race relations.

Hyde-Smith was also shown on another video joking about suppressing liberal student votes, and photographs have surfaced of her posing with Confederate artifacts in 2014.

"I interpret any acceptance of any of this as veiled - I'm not allowed to say completely racist, but in my opinion, it's deeply insensitive", she said, agreeing with co-host Whoopi Goldberg that "it's real close to racism".

A state spokesman says five additional nooses have been found hanging in trees outside the Mississippi Capitol, bringing the total to seven. One sign said MS needs a senator "who respects the lives of lynch victims".

"I think Espy supporters are probably a little more energized than Hyde-Smith", Barbour said. "I have stood up for you and you know I will continue to stand up for the conservative values of MS".

Trump also cautioned that a Democratic win by Espy could "revoke" gains Republicans make in the Senate earlier this month.

Trippi advised Jones during his improbable win in Alabama previous year, and emphasized that Jones won by only 23,000 votes despite facing a historically bad opponent who motivated Democratic voters and depressed GOP turnout.

Mr Espy is seeking to become the first African-American US senator from MS since Reconstruction.

Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan condemned the nooses by saying, "Obviously, this behavior is offensive and has no place in a civilized society".

"We can't afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes we've worked so hard to overcome", one ad for the Democrat said.

If white voters outnumber black voters two-to-one on Tuesday, Espy would have to win 30 percent or more of white votes, a tough task in a state with possibly the most racially polarised electorate in the country.

Many of his supporters are expected to back Hyde-Smith.

MS last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1982. Cindy Hyde-Smith about her comments referencing a "public hanging" and suggested her apology should suffice.

Why is the election still ongoing?

MS is preparing for a Tuesday Senate runoff between Republican Sen. Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence.

Given the uncertainty about voter turnout, and Hyde-Smith's visible deficiencies as a candidate and public speaker, Republican state and national officials have openly expressed concern that the runoff could produce an upset victory for the Democrat, like that won by Doug Jones in Alabama a year ago, when he narrowly defeated the ultra-right Republican nominee Roy Moore.

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