"I think some of the critics know it's totally nonsense," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Friday
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called suggestions that he doesn’t think African Americans are real Americans “deeply offensive” on Friday after receiving widespread criticism for remarks he made earlier in the week.
The 79-year-old minority leader from Kentucky caused a media firestorm on Wednesday after he was asked about concerns Americans of color may have about their voting rights due to Senate Republicans and two centrist Democrats committing to block a measure that would allow a simple majority vote to decide the fate of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
The bill was created due to concerns about minority voter suppression efforts after 19 GOP-led state legislatures across the country passed laws last year making it harder to vote. Those laws were passed in response to widespread 2020 election voter fraud claims made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
McConnell faces backlash after comparing ‘African Americans’ to ‘Americans’
McConnell said on Wednesday that concerns about the potential voter suppression of Black Americans are “misplaced”.
“If you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” he said.
Detractors bashed McConnell for appearing to suggest Black Americans aren’t as American as anyone else born or naturalized in this country.
“In one quote, he summarized the entire GOP worldview,” TV writer Bryan Behar tweeted late Wednesday night. “They think it’s a white nation and anyone who isn’t white isn’t a true American.”
The blowback made McConnell a trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday. But on Friday, he pushed back against the backlash, saying he misspoke previously by omitting the word “almost.”
“This outrageous mischaracterization of my record as a result of leaving one word out inadvertently the other day, which I just now have supplied to you, is deeply offensive,” McConnell told attendees at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville on Friday during an address about federal lawmakers’ passage of the Infrastructure bill.
Voting rights may have failed in the Senate, but our fight is not over
McConnell also said the criticism he’s received since Wednesday has been “hurtful and offensive” and, in his view, insincere.
“I think some of the critics know it’s totally nonsense,” he said.
The Kentucky lawmaker also cited his own self-proclaimed personal history with the Civil Rights Movement.
“I was there for Martin Luther King‘s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, in the audience,” he said, adding that he was also in attendance “when President [Lyndon] Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in the Capitol in 1965.”
“I have had African American speech writers, schedulers, office managers over the years,” he added.
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