Mitch McConnell Contrasts Black Voters, American Voters

Senator's rep says he misspoke, critics disagree
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2022 6:38 AM CST

(Newser) – Asked Wednesday to respond to voters of color concerned that they will be unable to vote in the midterm elections without passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Mitch McConnell put it this way: "The concern is misplaced because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans." The Senate minority leader was soon trending on Twitter, as Black Americans made clear that they are in fact Americans. "Being Black doesn't make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks," tweeted former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who is campaigning for Republican Rand Paul's Senate seat, per USA Today.

It "wasn't a Freudian slip—it was a dog whistle. The same one he has blown for years," added Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, per the Guardian. Many others, including Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Donald McEachin of Virginia, shared photos of themselves alongside hashtags including #IAmAmerican and #MitchPlease. Meanwhile, Mary Trump highlighted this 1992 quote from the late Toni Morrison: "In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate." A McConnell rep told CNN on Thursday that McConnell meant to say "other Americans." "I have consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African-Americans," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement given to CNN.

But since that election, "at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting," which disproportionately affect voters of color, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Hundreds more bills have been introduced, Kaleigh Rogers reports for FiveThirtyEight. President Biden said that in failing to pass legislation that would've restored a requirement that the federal government review election law changes in states with a history of discrimination, the "Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy." Earlier this month, McConnell countered that Democrats believe "our democracy is in perfect shape, except when Republican-controlled states dare to pass mainstream voting laws." (Read more Mitch McConnell stories.)

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