Trump defends embattled Hyde-Smith

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE on Tuesday defended Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who has come under fire for a controversial remark about public hangings.

“She’s a tremendous woman and I think she’s going to win,” Trump said.

The president said Hyde-Smith, who faces a runoff on Nov. 27 against Democrat Mike Espy, “feels very badly about” her comments. 

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“It was just sort of said in jest, as she said, and … it’s a shame that she has to go through this,” Trump added.

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The Mississippi senator has refused to apologize for her comments. 

Hyde-Smith became embroiled in controversy last week when videotaped surfaced of her telling a supporter “if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

The remark raised questions about her views on race and injected doubt about her chances of beating Espy, who is black. 

“In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” Hyde-Smith said in the aftermath of her comments. She has not answered questions about the remarks since. 

Trump is headlining two campaign events for Hyde-Smith on Monday in Mississippi.

If Hyde-Smith loses the Nov. 27 run-off, it would be a major blow to Republicans in a deep red state and help Democrats narrow the GOP’s margins after the party expanded its majority in the upper chamber. 

Updated at 4:52 p.m.

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