It has been an ugly week for Mitch McConnell.
Addressing reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, the Senate Minority Leader made an offensive comment about Black voters. “If you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” he said, seeming to imply that Black Americans aren’t Americans.
The internet wasn’t having it. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) tweeted, “After centuries of building this nation, Republicans still don’t consider Black voters to be Americans…We cannot pretend that the days of Jim Crow are behind us.” Illinois Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush tweeted, “African Americans ARE Americans. #MitchPlease.” And Patriot Takes, a left-wing organization that posts unflattering videos of GOP political figures, resurfaced this video clip from 2015:
Unearthed: Mitch McConnell, at a 2015 event: “My party does really good with white people and I’m proud of that.” pic.twitter.com/uiHf7Ir4np
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) January 21, 2022
The hashtag #MitchPlease has continued to trend on Twitter since Wednesday.
On Friday, McConnell tried to walk the statement back, which only led to more confusion and outrage. In a news conference in Kentucky, he called the backlash to his statement “offensive and outrageous,” and said had misspoken on Wednesday by omitting the word “almost.” This was, apparently, another mistake, because shortly after consulting an aide, he returned to the microphone to clarify the word he should have included was “all.” (And beforehand, McConnell’s office had told CNN McConnell meant to say “other” Americans.)
“I was there for Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in the audience…I was actually there when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in the Capitol in 1965,” McConnell said Friday, in an attempt to defend his civil rights record. “I have had African American speech writers, schedulers, office managers over the years.”
The reactions to McConnell’s implosion keep rolling in. Here’s a sampling:
After centuries of building this nation, Republicans still don't consider Black voters to be Americans.
That's why not a single one of them voted to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or the Freedom to Vote Act.
We cannot pretend that the days of Jim Crow are behind us. https://t.co/UcGC9IBTsx
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) January 20, 2022
— Bobby L. Rush (@RepBobbyRush) January 20, 2022
— Rep. Donald McEachin (@RepMcEachin) January 20, 2022
Please take 19 seconds to watch this video to understand why we have to fight for voting rights for ALL Americans, and why we have to stop the xenophobia, bigotry, racism, and partisanship that assumes only some people are American. https://t.co/I1YSgTxQCo
— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) January 20, 2022
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.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) January 20, 2022
— Philip🏴☠️ (@Philip_Germain) January 21, 2022
— Rosalind Fields Arnold (@raleighroz) January 20, 2022
— Rosalind Chapman (@MiAnFe4) January 20, 2022
— Barry Jones (@bazjoz) January 20, 2022
— Scott Black (@XercesSB) January 21, 2022
— Cecilia (@Ceci2you) January 21, 2022
— Lakota Man (@LakotaMan1) January 20, 2022