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Hyde-Smith accepts invitation to debate; Espy considering it

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven has accepted an invitation from Mississippi Farm Bureau to debate her Democrat opponent, Mike Espy, on Nov. 20, according to a press release from her campaign.

Hyde-Smith’s campaign received and accepted the debate invitation Wednesday.

“With the U.S. Senate being in session for several days next week, and the Thanksgiving holiday taking place later this month, the proposed date of Nov. 20 is ideal for voters to have an opportunity to learn the clear differences between conservative Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and liberal Democrat Mike Espy,” said Melissa Scallan, communications director for Sen. Hyde-Smith’s campaign. “Cindy looks forward to a robust debate about the major issues facing our state and country, and to outline the clear choice voters have in this important runoff election.”

Espy has said multiple times he was willing to debate ahead of Tuesday’s election. Hyde-Smith had previously declined to participate in a debate.

Danny Blanton, campaign spokesman for Espy, says his campaign is reviewing “terms and conditions” before deciding whether to accept.

Espy sent Hyde-Smith a letter Wednesday challenging her to three debates.

A runoff between Hyde-Smith and Espy is Nov. 27 since neither got enough votes Tuesday to win the race outright. Hyde-Smith slightly edged out the former Clinton administration cabinet member by a percentage point. Statewide, the former agriculture commissioner from Brookhaven pulled down 345,248 votes, good for 41.5 percent of the total, while Espy grabbed 337,045 votes, good for 40.5 percent.

The runoff winner will serve the final two years of a term started by Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired in April.