Nooses found at MS state capitol on eve of special election

Trump speaks during a rally at the Tupelo Regional Airport in Tupelo. — AFP

Trump speaks during a rally at the Tupelo Regional Airport in Tupelo. — AFP

The nooses and six handwritten signs referring to the state's history of lynchings and to a U.S. Senate election were found Monday - the day before a runoff between appointed Republican Sen.

The midterms are over, but President Donald Trump is back campaigning in MS to help GOP Sen.

"Your vote on Tuesday will decide whether we build on our extra achievements or whether we empower the radical Democrats to obstruct our progress, reverse our gains and return to the failures of the past", Trump said at a rally in Tupelo, Mississippi.

"I've gotten to know her over the last period of time as a senator, as a very talented United States senator and I know where her heart is, and her heart is good". She's fended off controversy for weeks over a video of her saying she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging". The Mississippi lawmaker has since said her comment was made in jest and denied any racial connotation.

Hyde-Smith refused to apologize for either statement, declaring that she had been joking on both occasions, but then declined all interview requests or further comment on the subject, until she was forced to address it in her lone debate with Espy.

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Hyde-Smith's runoff election against Espy, a former congressman and USA agriculture secretary, has been far closer than expected thanks to a series of racial controversies, including a photo that emerged of Hyde-Smith wearing a replica hat of a Confederate soldier, and a video in which she said she'd be "on the front row" if invited to a public hanging.

Hyde-Smith has campaigned as an unwavering supporter of Trump, who campaigned with her in Tupelo and Gulfport. Thad Cochran. The longtime lawmaker retired in April amid health concerns.

The historic contest features Hyde-Smith, who would be the first woman elected to Congress from MS, against Espy, who's vying to become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

Michael King, 71, who was voting Tuesday, said he believed that criticism of Hyde-Smith was purely political, as people were "grabbing something to make her look bad at the last moment".

Several nooses were found hanging outside of the Mississippi Capitol building on Monday, a day ahead of a highly anticipated and controversial special election in the state.

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MS is preparing for a Tuesday Senate runoff between Republican Sen. One sign said MS needs a senator "who respects the lives of lynch victims". As the white and Republican blocs in MS are larger than the black and Democratic blocs, it seems likely that her larger base will carry Hyde-Smith to a moderately strong victory.

He said the matter is under investigation by the Mississippi Capitol Police.

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

MS has a history of racially motivated lynchings and violence against people who sought voting rights for black citizens. Major League Baseball did not say why it gave money to Hyde-Smith.

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"I've never really hard anything about Mike Espy", said 19-year-old Marjorie Lam, a biology student at the community college. "While we support candidates who promote pro-growth policies for business and technology, we do not condone these remarks and would not have made such a contribution had we known about them".

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