A WHITE Republican senator from Mississippi has apologised to people who were offended when she told a supporter she would attend a “public hanging” if the supporter invited her.

Cindy Hyde-Smith’s remark, caught on a video which was released earlier this month, brought widespread criticism from inside and outside the state,which has a history of racially motivated lynchings.

Hyde-Smith said during a televised debate with her African-American Democratic opponent Mike Espy: “For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologise. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoeverin my statement.”

The apology was a new approach from Hyde-Smith, who repeatedly refused to answer questions about the hanging comment at a news conference on November 12.

However, she also said: “I’ve never been hurtful to anyone. I also recognise that 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. That’s the type of politics Mississippians are sick and tired of.”

Espy said during the debate: “No-one twisted your comments because your comments were live. It came out of your mouth. I don’t know what’s in your heart but I know what came out of myour mouth.”