GOP Senate candidate polls followers on whether Robert E. Lee was hero or villain

A Republican state senator running for U.S. Senate in Mississippi asked his Twitter followers to respond to a poll asking whether Robert E. Lee was a hero or a villain.

Chris McDaniel tweeted Thursday that he was "curious about what you think" of how the Confederate general should be remembered.

"In light of all the political correctness and leftist hysteria, I'm curious about what you think: How should Robert E. Lee be remembered?" McDaniel wrote.

The two options were "hero" and "villain."

The poll had more than 75,000 votes as of Friday morning.

McDaniel has previously defended Lee, calling him the "most decorated soldier in the U.S. Army" on Wednesday.

"He was a man of unimpeachable integrity," McDaniel wrote. "Lincoln offered him command of the Union Army, but Lee refused only because his loyalty was to Virginia."

McDaniel wrongly claimed that Lee opposed both secession and slavery leading up to the Civil War.

"And yet to the historically illiterate left, a man who opposed both slavery and secession has come to symbolize both slavery and secession," he continued.

McDaniel was fact-checked by other social media users, including CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

"Nope," Tapper said to McDaniel's claims about Lee, linking to a New York Times article about a letter he wrote to the newspaper before the Civil War.

While Lee had implied that the people enslaved on his family's property would be set free within five years, Lee joined secessionists in April 1861 and never spoke out against slavery, the article states.

Historian Kevin Kruse also rebutted McDaniel's claim on Twitter, saying that Lee "brutalized" the slaves his family owned.

"Lee owned slaves and brutalized them. Lee led an armed revolt against the United States to preserve slavery. And during it, Lee's army captured free blacks in the North and enslaved them," Kruse tweeted.

McDaniel is running against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the seat after Thad Cochran's (R) resignation earlier this year, and Democrat Mike Espy.

He is trailing Hyde-Smith by 10 points according to a new GOP poll leaked from Hyde-Smith's campaign and obtained by BuzzFeed News earlier this month.