Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was excoriated by several lawmakers for remarks he made about Black voters.
On Wednesday night, Senate Republicans blocked voting rights legislation that Democrats say is necessary to counter voting restrictions being enacted in several GOP-led states, including Texas and Florida. Studies have shown that strict voter ID laws disproportionately impact Black and Latino voters, and voters of color regularly have to wait longer in line to vote.
McConnell spoke to reporters after the bill was blocked, and was asked if he had a message for voters who are worried they won't be able to cast their ballot in the midterms because of restrictions in their state."The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans." McConnell replied.
The condemnation came quickly. "African Americans ARE Americans," Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) tweeted, adding the hashtag #MitchPlease. Charles Booker, a Democrat aiming to unseat Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said he is "no less American than Mitch McConnell." In a follow-up tweet, Booker stated: "I need you to understand that this is who Mitch McConnell is. Being Black doesn't make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks."
Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democratic state representative in Pennsylvania who is also running for Senate, tweeted that McConnell's "comments suggesting African Americans aren't fully American wasn't a Freudian slip — it was a dog whistle. The same one he has blown for years."
McConnell's office issued a statement on Thursday saying the senator has "consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African Americans."