Obama records robocall for Espy in Mississippi Senate runoff

Obama records robocall for Espy in Mississippi Senate runoff
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Former President Obama recorded a robocall that was released Monday to help boost Mike Espy in his underdog campaign to defeat Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) in Mississippi’s unusually tight Senate runoff Tuesday.

“Hi, this is Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSenate needs to stand up to Trump's Nixonian view of the Fed Beyoncé in 'Time 100' profile: Michelle Obama empowers black Americans New Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' debuts MORE, and tomorrow is election day. My name may not be on the ballot, but our future is. And that’s why I believe this is one of the most important elections in our lifetime. Make a plan to vote tomorrow. I’m counting on you to be in line to vote before polls close,” he says in the call. 

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The Mississippi contest to serve out the remainder of retired Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE’s (R) term advanced to a runoff after no candidate exceeded 50 percent of the vote in the general election earlier this month.

Recent missteps by Hyde-Smith have Democrats hoping they can pull off an upset in the Deep South reminiscent of Democrat Doug Jones’s victory over Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreGOP strategist: Alabama Republicans need to 'gather around' candidate who 'is not Roy Moore' The Hill's Morning Report — Combative Trump aims at Pelosi before Russia report Poll: Roy Moore leading Alabama GOP field MORE in last year’s Alabama special election.

A reporter published a video earlier this month showing Hyde-Smith saying that she’d be “on the front row” if a supporter she was campaigning with invited her to a “public hanging.”

Hyde-Smith has said she made the comment in jest and repeatedly declined to comment on the matter beyond a statement describing the remark as an "exaggerated expression of regard" for a supporter. 

The Jackson Free Press also reported last week that Hyde-Smith attended and graduated from a Mississippi segregation academy in the 1970s.

The report shows a yearbook picture in which Hyde-Smith poses with other girls and a mascot seemingly dressed as a Confederate general and holding a Confederate flag. The school was one of several private institutions set up to bypass integration after Mississippi Gov. John Bell Williams in 1969 ordered that public schools integrate. It also said Hyde-Smith sent her daughter to such a school. 

A 2014 photo was also circulated last week showing Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate soldier's hat with the caption “Mississippi history at its best!”

Espy, who is running to be Mississippi’s first black senator since Reconstruction, slammed some of the comments at a debate last week.

“I don’t want to go to yesteryear. I want to move forward,” he said.

The robocall’s release from one of the Democrats’ highest-profile names came the same day that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE held two rallies in Mississippi to boost Hyde-Smith in the wake of the scandals. The runoff is already expected to be a low-turnout contest and both sides hope their party’s respective stars will motivate their base to head to the polls.

Obama has re-emerged as a powerful campaign surrogate, appearing at rallies for Democratic candidates across the country during the midterm cycle after remaining quiet for much of the beginning of Trump’s tenure.

Republicans currently have control of the Senate with 52 seats, but the Democrats will take control of the House in January after picking up at least 38 seats in the midterm elections.