A week before a runoff election that will determine whether she remains a senator, Mississippi's Cindy Hyde-Smith continues to fend off bad publicity over a "public hanging" joke. The latest development is that Walmart has asked the Republican incumbent to return its campaign donations, reports CNBC. "Sen. Hyde-Smith's recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates," said Walmart in replying to a critical tweet from actress Debra Messing. "As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations." The company had given Hyde-Smith, who faces Democrat Mike Espy in a Nov. 27 runoff, two donations for a total of $2,000.
All of this stems from remarks Hyde-Smith made on the campaign trail, when referring to a local rancher and supporter of hers. If he "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," she said. Hyde-Smith has refused to apologize, saying critics are distorting what were good-natured comments, but critics say Mississippi in particular is no place to be making such jokes. Union Pacific and medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific have similarly requested their campaign donations back, reports Politico. (Elsewhere, Democratic candidates have routed Republicans in Orange County, California, a once-red House region.)