Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., reacts after bumping into an American flag before speaking to the media on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
- Mitch McConnell spoke to press after the voting rights bill failed in the Senate late Wednesday night.
- “African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” the Senate Minority Leader said.
- His comment has received pushback from critics and political opponents.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that Black people show up to vote just much as “Americans” do — seemingly separating the Black population from the rest of the country.
Late Wednesday night, Republicans in the Senate blocked the “Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act,” which would have made voting more accessible across the nation, Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.
At a press conference following the failed passage of the major voting rights legislation, reporter Pablo Manríquez asked McConnell about the impact and concerns of voters of color.
“Well, 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 Republican senator from Kentucky replied.
His comment was quickly met by backlash from critics online.
“Being Black doesn’t make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks,” former Rep. Charles Booker of Kentucky, who is currently running for Senate, tweeted Thursday.
—MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) January 20, 2022
Rep. Ilhan Omar also tweeted in response to the video, saying that the “othering of Americans who aren’t white was never a ‘quiet part,’ it has always been loud and painful for everyone who has experienced it.”
Some referred to his statement as a “Freudian slip” — which refers to a subconscious slip-up in wording that may point out hidden feelings — while others called it intentional.
“Mitch McConnell’s comments suggesting African Americans aren’t fully American wasn’t a Freudian slip — it was a dog whistle,” Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Pennsylvania tweeted Thursday. “The same one he has blown for years.”
In a statement emailed to Insider on Thursday, McConnell said that he has “consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African-Americans.”