Like a lot of Mississippi Republicans, Smith seems willing to forgive the senator for some of the eyebrow-raising remarks she's made in recent weeks.
President Donald Trump is stumping in MS on Monday for a Republican Senate appointee who wants voters to focus on her unwavering support for him, and not the racial questions that have made Tuesday's runoff election a much closer contest than anyone expected. She said of her decision to have a child later in life, "At 39 years old, I knew I wanted a child".
"I'll vote for Mrs. Smith you know, because being a Republican", said Betty Lechman, a Biloxi-area resident of five decades, at the Edgewater Mall food court table where she and her friends meet every day of the week except Sundays, which are reserved for church.
"She certainly didn't mean that and it was taken a certain way, but she certainly didn't mean it", he said.
Hyde-Smith, a former state lawmaker who was appointed to her US Senate seat in April to fill a vacancy, startled observers this month when she said she would be "on the front row" if one of her supporters "invited me to a public hanging".
"And she misspoke", Trump told reporters on the South Lawn as he left to hold a pair of rallies supporting Hyde-Smith in Mississippi.
Tuesday's victor will finish the final two years of the term begun by Republican Sen.
Mr Espy is trying to become the first African-American US senator from MS since Reconstruction. The league cut the check for Hyde-Smith's campaign on November 12 or 13, two sources told Yahoo Sports - a day or two after the lynching comments were first made public by the Jackson Free Press.
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Federal and state authorities are investigating seven nooses that were found hanging from trees outside the Mississippi Capitol on Monday, along with handwritten signs that referred to the Senate runoff and the state's history of lynching.
President Donald Trump fired up a MS rally crowd Monday by referring to barbed-wire fences erected by military troops along the U.S. -Mexico border as "pretty nasty".
The contest has drawn comparisons to the Alabama Senate special election in December 2017, when Democrat Doug Jones won a narrow victory against Republican Roy Moore, who was accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers.
The NAACP website says that between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States, and that almost 73 per cent of the victims were black. She apologised "to anyone that was offended".
Still, White House officials have long expressed unease about Hyde Smith and worry that she wasn't ready for prime time.
We've reached out to the Hyde-Smith campaign for comment and will update when we hear back.
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. In his closing statement at the debate, Espy called Cochran a "thoughtful" and "efficient" senator, adding, "I would hope to be the kind of senator that Senator Cochran is". "They're not putting their best in there, right?" he said. Thad Cochran. But they're convinced that Hyde-Smith will pull out a win, even if it's narrower than it should be. "I talk to them as Mississippians - Mississippi young people who want to reduce their debt coming out of college, Mississippi young people who want to stay in this state, and not go to Atlanta and Dallas to get a good job", Espy said after voting.