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McConnell reacts to backlash over 'black voters' comment

AP file photo

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the criticism he received over a comment made about African American voters is outrageous and offensive. Arlo Barnette has more on the story.

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would have made Election Day a national holiday and ensured access to early voting and mail-in ballots.

Before the House-passed measure came to a halt in the Senate Wednesday, McConnell was asked to respond to voters of color concerned that without the bill’s passage, they wouldn’t be able to vote in the upcoming midterm.

"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.”

Many on social media have decried the remark as racist. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker tweeted “Being Black doesn’t make you
less of an American.”

Others have said he meant to say the word “all” before “Americans.” When asked to clarify Thursday, McConnell provided "I have consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African-Americans."

Though 2020 saw the biggest voter turnout in a century, Black voter representation fell short of white votes by a 7% margin. Voting advocates have warned that after 2021 saw 19 states pass laws restricting voting access, people of color may face disproportionate challenges in casting a ballot this year.

From the Associated Press:

After a speech Friday at the Kentuckians for Better Transportation’s annual conference in Louisville, the Republican leader said he misspoke at a news conference held in Washington on Wednesday.

McConnell had said African Americans had voted “in just as high a percentage as Americans."

The comment caused an outcry on social media and beyond. McConnell said he should have said “all" before Americans. He said he had been an advocate for minority voting rights through the years.