As the senatorial race in Mississippi’s runoff special election continues to heat up, the state's governor made a repugnant reference to the abortions of Black babies while attempting to defend of one candidate's joke about lynching. 

Blavity previously reported that Cindy Hyde-Smith joked about attending a "public hanging" during a speech to supporters on November 2.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," she said of a white comrade who introduced her before her public address.

She defended her statement after video of the commentary went viral.

"I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement," Hyde-Smith said defending her statement. "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."

The senatorial candidate refuses to make a formal apology for the remark. At Smith's recent press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, she doubled down on her defense. 

“I put out a statement yesterday, and I stand by that statement, and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” she repeated to the press.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s statements during the conference only continued to incite outrage. Mississippi conservative outlet Y’all Politics originally shared the video from the event where Bryant backed Smith.

“When you make as many public speeches as we do in public life, that does occur," Governor Bryant said in the clip. "But I know this woman, and I know her heart; I knew it when I appointed her, and I know it now. She meant no offense by that statement; there is nothing in her heart of ill will." 

“Now in a political campaign people can say anything they want to say," he continued. "They can spin in it; they can go on social media and accuse you of all sorts of things.”

“Absolutely, we have been sensitive to race relations in this state. I brought the president of the United States here to open the civil rights museum. African American leadership would fail to come to the event because the president of the United States was there," Bryant continued. "Today, I talked about the genocide of over 20 million African American children. See in my heart I’m confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African American children have been aborted. No one wants to say anything about that."

A reporter addressed the lack of acknowledgment of the political candidate's statements. 

“Everything is not about race,” the governor responded.

“Remember we are in the middle of a political campaign. Those that oppose Cindy Hyde-Smith will take advantage of this,” he said. “You might want to ask yourself where the video came from. I’m not blaming the person that took it, but it was clearly designed for political purpose.”

Several people took to Twitter to share their outrage:

A debate between Smith and Epsy is set to take place one week before the runoff election on November 20.

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