McConnell responds to uproar over comment about Black voters

Jan 21, 2022, 3:57 PM | Updated: Jan 22, 2022, 1:42 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back Friday against the uproar over a comment he made about African American voters, calling the criticism directed his way “outrageous.”

McConnell had been accused of racism for saying that “African American” voters cast ballots at similar rates to “Americans.” The comment implied that Black voters are somehow not American and underscored the concerns of voting rights advocates that Republicans in state legislatures across the country are explicitly seeking to disenfranchise Black voters.

Following a speech Friday at an annual conference in Louisville, the Republican leader said he misspoke Wednesday when he made the comment during a Washington news conference.

“I’ve never been accused of this sort of thing before, and it’s hurtful and offensive,” he said. “And I think some of the critics know it’s totally nonsense.”

McConnell on Wednesday had said that “African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” McConnell explained on Friday that he should have said the word “all” before “Americans.”

He also defended his record on race by noting that he attended the Rev. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963. He also said he helped organize a civil rights march at Kentucky’s state Capitol and was present when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

When asked what he would say to those who had been offended by his words, McConnell said he would discuss his record relating to voting rights, and brought up his role as a mentor to Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is Black and one of many Republicans who came to the minority leader’s defense this week.

“I think he would confirm with you that I recruited him to run. I’ve supported him, and I’m proud of him,” McConnell said. “I have had African American speechwriters, schedulers, office managers over the years.”

Charles Booker, a Kentucky Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, had been among many who had blasted the Republican earlier in the week. Booker, who is Black, did not back down from criticizing McConnell on Friday.

“Mitch McConnell wants you to know it’s fine for him to block Voting Rights because he has Black friends,” tweeted Booker, who unsuccessfully ran for McConnell’s seat in 2020 and is challenging GOP Sen. Rand Paul this year.

McConnell tried to rebuff concerns among Democrats that GOP state lawmakers across the country are trying to disenfranchise minority voters by pointing to record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election.

Federal legislation like the kind he and other GOP lawmakers blocked on Wednesday also wasn’t necessary, he said, because the Voting Rights Act was still law and concerns over specific state voting laws could be worked out through the court system.

“They co-opted Congressman Lewis’ name, stuck it on a bill that really was not related to the Voting Rights Act … in order to try to achieve a partisan advantage by federalizing election laws,” McConnell said, referencing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

The part of the bill named after Lewis, the late civil rights leader and Democratic congressman from Georgia, would have updated the Voting Rights Act and was a direct response to a Supreme Court ruling that weakened the law’s oversight of states with a history of discriminating against Black and other minority voters.

___

Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio wears a hat that says The War Boys during a rally i...
Associated Press

Ex-Proud Boys leader to stay jailed until Capitol riot trial

The former top leader of the Proud Boys will remain jailed while awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with other members of the far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, a federal judge has ruled. Henry “Enrique” Tarrio poses a danger to the public […]
10 hours ago
President Joe Biden delivers his keynote address to the University of Delaware Class of 2022 during...
Associated Press

Biden tells Delaware grads to step up, ‘now it’s your hour’

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden told graduates Saturday at his alma mater, the University of Delaware, that “now it’s your hour,” as he encouraged young people in the United States to help the country live up to its ideals. Speaking to more than 6,000 graduates, and with the nation mourning victims of two […]
10 hours ago
Veldarin Jackson, Sr., center, talks about receiving the call that his mother, Janice Reed, had die...
Associated Press

Deaths of 3 women in early heat wave raise questions, fears

CHICAGO (AP) — Temperatures barely climbed into the 90s and only for a couple of days. But the discovery of the bodies of three women inside a Chicago senior housing facility this month left the city looking for answers to questions that were supposed to be addressed after a longer and hotter heat wave killed […]
10 hours ago
Teresa Parks walks in the Little Apple Pride parade Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. In...
Associated Press

Kansas equity efforts bring little change after George Floyd

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — First she saw the graphic cellphone video showing Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death in Georgia, then news that Breonna Taylor had been shot in her Kentucky home during a botched drug raid. But when Teresa Parks watched videos of the white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee onto a Black man’s neck, […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Harini Logan, 11, of San Antonio, smiles after correctly spelling her word as she competes i...
Associated Press

Pandemic has lingering toll on smaller National Spelling Bee

Dev Shah’s dream of returning to the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a soccer stadium, of all places. On a cool, windy February day with occasional rain showers, Dev spent five miserable hours spelling outdoors at Exploria Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City club, ultimately finishing fourth in a regional bee […]
10 hours ago
This combination of two separate photos shows Herschel Walker in Atlanta, May 24, 2022, left, and S...
Associated Press

In Georgia, 2 Black candidates to compete for Senate seat

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Wayne Black was one of the few African Americans in the crowd as about 100 people gathered recently at the Republican Party headquarters near Columbus, Georgia, to hear from U.S. Senate candidate and football legend Herschel Walker. A member of the Muscogee County Republican Executive Committee, Black said he found a […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Have you gotten your booster shot?

Do you remember when you got your last COVID-19 vaccination? If it has been more than five months since you completed your primary vaccination series, it’s time for you to get your booster. You may be eligible even sooner depending which vaccine you received. If you are over the age of 50 and received your […]
(Twitter photo / Coco5)...
Coco5

Suns star Devin Booker’s all-natural sports drink Coco5 perfect for any activity

Devin Booker is leading the Suns in pursuit of their first NBA championship while also working to provide people proper hydration with Coco5.
McConnell responds to uproar over comment about Black voters