The Latest: GOP senator hits challenger over lobbying work

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Mike Espy who is seeking to unseat appointed U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and serve the last two years of the six-year term vacated when Republican Thad Cochran retired for health reasons, speaks about his experience in government as a congressman and agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, before college students at a town hall meeting at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a U.S. Senate special election runoff in Mississippi (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

As Mississippi's U.S. Senate race intensifies, Republicans are slamming Democrat Mike Espy's lobbying work for an African leader who was later charged with crimes against humanity.

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and a GOP campaign group launched ads after a Fox News report Thursday questioned whether Espy lied about work he did for former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo (BAHG'-boh).

Now deposed, Gbagbo is on trial before the International Criminal Court.

Records show Espy was hired by an Ivory Coast government agency in 2011, collecting $750,000.

Hyde-Smith's campaign says Espy misled a Washington reporter about his involvement in 2011. It also questions his willingness to work for Gbagbo.

The Espy campaign has hammered Hyde-Smith over her comment about a "public hanging."

Hyde-Smith and Espy compete in a Nov. 27 runoff.

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4:45 p.m.

A campaign spokeswoman says a Republican U.S. senator from Mississippi was praising the idea of adding voting precincts on some college campuses when the senator joked about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote.

The remark by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was captured on video Nov. 3 in Starkville, where she spoke to students at Mississippi State University. The video was released Thursday by a liberal-leaning news site in Louisiana.

On Friday, about 50 people in Mississippi protested Hyde-Smith's voting remark and a separate one she made about "public hanging."

Campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan says the video Thursday shows Hyde-Smith saying "that's a great idea." Scallan says a campaign staffer who was with the senator saw that as a response to adding more voting precincts.

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3:30 p.m.

Protesters in Mississippi are condemning remarks a Republican U.S. senator made about "public hanging" and voting rights.

A racially diverse group of more than 50 people gathered Friday in downtown Jackson and chanted "No hate in our state" and "Cindy gotta go."

A video released Sunday showed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." She said it was "an exaggerated expression of regard."

A separate video released Thursday shows Hyde-Smith talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote. Her campaign says the senator was joking.

George H. Williams, a 65-year-old Marine Corps veteran from Ridgeland, Mississippi, says Hyde-Smith "must think people are stuck on stupid."

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11:38 p.m.

The spokesman for a Democratic challenger says Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith "embarrasses" Mississippi when she talks about making voting more difficult.

A video released Thursday shows Hyde-Smith talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote.

Her campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan says the senator was joking.

Hyde-Smith, who is white, faces Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, in a Nov. 27 runoff. The winner gets the final two years of a six-year term.

Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton says "voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood."

A video released Sunday showed Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." Hyde-Smith said that was "an exaggerated expression of regard."