“My comments [did not] mean I would enjoy any type of capital punishment sitting there witnessing this. You know, for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements,” she said. But Hyde-Smith added, “This comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me. A political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent.”

Espy, who is African-American, said the episode has been an embarrassment to Mississippi, reinforcing stereotypes and giving “our state another black eye that we don’t need.”

“No one twisted your comments because your comments were live, it came out of your mouth,” Espy said. “I don’t know what’s in your heart, but we all know came out of your mouth.”