Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, formerly a Democrat, said she did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008 as state Sen. Chris McDaniel has alleged. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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One of state Sen. Chris McDaniel's primary talking points in the Mississippi Senate special election is that Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, now a Republican, voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008 when Hyde-Smith was still a Democrat, making McDaniel the only lifelong conservative in the race.
Not so, Hyde-Smith now says, according to the Washington Times.
The incumbent senator sought to set the record straight during a telephone town hall call Friday.
“I could swear to you on a stack of Bibles that would go through the roof of the building we are standing in - I have never and would never vote for Hillary Clinton," Hyde-Smith said on the call.
What's the story?
Hyde-Smith was a Democrat when she was a state senator, switching to the Republican Party in 2010.
Voting records show that Hyde-Smith voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, a high profile battle between then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
McDaniel has used this information to campaign against Hyde-Smith on a narrative that she voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and that he is the only real conservative in the Mississippi special election.
From a June news release by the McDaniel campaign:
No one should be surprised that Cindy Hyde-Smith voted for Hillary Clinton. She voted exclusively in Democratic primaries before opportunistically switching parties to run for statewide office in 2011. Why wouldn’t she have voted for Hillary? Thankfully, Mississippians have an opportunity to right this wrong in November by electing Chris McDaniel, the only lifelong Republican and true conservative in the race.
So who did Hyde-Smith vote for?
Hyde-Smith has said she did not vote for Hillary Clinton, and also that she did not vote for Obama. Rather, Hyde-Smith said she voted for one of the lesser known names on the ballot -- although she doesn't remember for sure who it was.
Here's Hyde-Smith in the Clarion-Ledger:
"You can leave a ballot blank, or you can vote for the third or fourth person on there that nobody knows, because I assure you that I didn't vote for either (Clinton or Obama). That is just honestly the 100-percent truth.
"It was probably a no-name, but I still can't remember who the no-name was. But it certainly wasn't either one of them. Because you have so many folks who just, you know, their names on the ballot or you can have a write-in. That was, gosh, 10 years ago, and I have no idea what the name was."
Did McDaniel vote as a Democrat?
Turns out McDaniel also has somewhat of a history voting in Democratic elections. As was discovered in 2014, records show that McDaniel voted in the Democratic primary in 2003 — although he likely had a different reason than Hyde-Smith for doing so.
Sam Hall explained it in the Clarion Ledger in 2014:
The majority of local elected officials are still Democrats, though that majority is constantly shrinking. Nevertheless, what Mississippi has had for many years is a situation where someone may want to vote in the Democratic primary so they can choose their supervisor, superintendent of education and sheriff, but they have every intention of supporting the Republican nominee for statewide offices like governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
McDaniel's spokesman at the time confirmed that explanation.
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