The Cindy Hyde-Smith campaign called me out in a press release sent via email to who knows how many people.

The release came in response to a column I wrote last week about how the campaign’s communications department should have their knuckles rapped with a ruler. I still believe they need that.

A quick refresher. After Chris McDaniel received a large campaign donation from a conservative group that did not support Trump, the campaign made the connection that conservative group plus McDaniel equals McDaniel is anti-Trump.

Then the communications team — some of them actual former reporters (shame!) — attributed a quote to McDaniel about Trump’s lack of conservatism, being too liberal and calling the president an “embarrassment.”

Well, they parsed and edited their way through three separate statements, with no contextual connectivity, put quote marks around it, took out a word and... Boom... Would you look at what that whackaloon McDaniel said?

But he didn’t say it.

On Friday, the campaign that is wanting to represent you, the good-ole folks who just want the government the hell off our backs, released a follow-up press release saying that I, your humble columnist, had proved their point in the “Who Can Out-Trump Trump” race for Senate. And my column, they wrote, proved that McDaniel is not in line with Donald Trump, ergo not Republican enough to serve the people of Mississippi.

Of course, the release came from a candidate who, as former state Democratic party chairman Rickey Cole said, voted for Hillary Clinton and was a voting Democrat until about a decade ago.

What was not addressed in the spin shoveled out like dog crap by the Hyde-Smith campaign was why they would see fit to just make said dog crap up and attribute to someone who never said it?

Because there is no excuse.

If they could just make up quotes, what else could they make up? And how many professionals actually took the time to examine the original press release and finds its lies? Probably not many – and that is what Hyde-Smith’s camp banks on.

On Friday night in Jackson, Donald Trump was scheduled to stump for Hyde-Smith in a move that was vexing to those with common sense but obvious to those who watch Washington. The swamp has gotten to Donald Trump. He had to cancel his appearance because of the hurricane that is barreling toward the Carolina coast.

In a deft move, McDaniel, who has been trying to get Hyde-Smith into a debate on the issues, offered her a chance to debate him on Friday. She will be in Jackson and doesn’t have anything planned, his campaign wrote, so let’s debate.

Her communications staff cannot make up quotes for her during a debate, though, so certainly she will find something else to do on Friday night. She is holding the championship belt — the senate seat — so why get into the ring with a brawler?

No, she will rely on disingenuous press releases with created quotes and calling out the same newspaper editor who proved in black and white their lies.

Really? This is who we want?

This senate election features four candidates and the choices are pretty clear.

• Cindy Hyde-Smith is the embodiment of things being done “as they always have.” She is bought and paid for by the Haley Barbour-Mitch McConnell wing of the Republican party. They have carved out a mighty sweet deal for themselves and will be damned if outsiders will come and ruin it. Hyde-Smith will vote how she is told to vote and do what she is told to do, like a loyal Haley Barbour soldier.

• Mike Espy is a government guy. He thinks the federal government has a key role in our lives. He has served in various statewide offices. He also has the Scarlet Letter “D” next to his name.

• Chris McDaniel is without question the most conservative candidate. He wants limited federal government, to control spending and is pushing term limits. He is cut from the Reagan mold and believes government is not the answer to our problems, but is the problem.

• Tobey Bartee served the country in the military and says he is a man of few words. Without much funding, Bartee will be the longest of longshots. He could take away some votes from Espy, however. Maybe he could hire Hyde-Smith communications director Melissa Scallan so she can concoct a few good quotes for him.

This race is pretty cut and dry. The lines are drawn.

To you, the voters, be skeptical. Don’t take everything you hear at face value. Consider things such as why the president was planning to stump for someone who, if she didn’t need him, would have zero in common with. Ask yourself who has the best interests of Mississippians in mind? Ask yourself who has the best interests of Haley Barbour and Mitch McConnell in mind?

I renew a call to the Hyde-Smith campaign to produce a recording of Chris McDaniel us- ing the quote that was attributed to him in that press release. Either that or come clean that you lied.

I offered $20 and a Journalism 101 textbook if you can produce said quote. I will up that to the textbook, $40 — I live on a newspaper salary after all — and throw in a well-used 2012 AP Stylebook.

You can spin about who can out-Trump Trump, but you cannot spin concocting a quote and attributing it to your opponent.

In deference to Judge Judith Sheindlin: “LIAR, LIAR, PANTS

ON FIRE!

Sean Murphy is editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at murph@leader-call.com.

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