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MS-Sen: Incumbent Sen. Hyde-Smith not committed to debates, citing her schedule

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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has not committed to the upcoming debates in the Mississippi Senate special election. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

While the people challenging for her seat have committed to upcoming U.S. Senate debates, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith remains noncommittal about whether she will participate, WREG-TV reported.

Hyde-Smith, who is favored in the election and holds the seat by way of a governor's appointment, will apparently have to check her schedule to see if she has time to debate.

"It really is all going to depend on her schedule in D.C.," a campaign spokesman told the Associated Press.

When are the debates?

The two debates scheduled at this point will be Oct. 4 at Millsaps College and Oct. 23 at the Mississippi School of Law.

Hyde-Smith may feel that she has little to gain by debating her challengers: state Sen. Chris McDaniel, former Clinton agriculture secretary Mike Espy and newcomer Democratic candidate Tobey Bartee. Hyde-Smith has consistently led in polls, and has the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Trump will campaign for Hyde-Smith during a "Make America Great Again" rally on Wednesday in Jackson. Trump won Mississippi with 58 percent of the vote in 2016.

McDaniel upset with media coverage

McDaniel's campaign has been displeased with the way local media has covered Hyde-Smith and the debates, issuing a statement Friday accusing a station of "intentional fake news."

WAPT-TV showed all four candidates in a graphic, with three of them labeled by party; Hyde-Smith is labelled as a Republican. McDaniel, however, was not labeled with any party affiliation.

"This is nothing more than the fake news media trying to manipulate voters into believing that Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Republican, when she is in fact a lifelong Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton and only recently switched parties out of political convenience," said spokesman Tanner Watson.

Hyde-Smith became a Republican in 2010. McDaniel, who campaigns as an "America First Conservative" and says he is the only Republican in the race, has focused heavily on drawing attention to his opponent's Democratic past.

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