Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday accused those opposed to a restrictive voting rights law in Georgia of “playing the race card,” insisting that any notion of voter suppression was a far cry from reality.
“People are not being denied the right to vote anywhere in America,” McConnell said in an interview with the New York Times published Wednesday night. “Nobody should buy this notion that this is somehow about voter suppression. They are also playing the race card, which shows how desperate they are to shame people into voting for this monstrosity.”
McConnell, who has long fought to fend off campaign fundraising restrictions, has been relentless in seeking a counter-narrative to push back on a campaign spending overhaul and voting rights expansion bill being pushed by congressional Democrats. The proposed legislation would likely undo some of the damage done by new restrictive voting laws in Georgia that are also cropping up in a series of states in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.
McConnell’s comments to the Times come after he first fumbled at voicing selective opposition to corporate involvement in politics after a series of big companies expressed their dismay over the passage of a bill likely to limit voters’ rights in the Peach State.
“I found it completely discouraging to find a bunch of corporate CEOs getting in the middle of politics,” McConnell said during a press conference in his home state on Monday. “My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights.”
The posture from the Kentucky lawmaker appeared to contradict the many years he has fiercely defended corporations on both their rights free speech and rights to boost preferred candidates to influence elections. Meanwhile he has filled his own campaign coffers with cash from CEOs of big companies.
McConnell on Wednesday tried to adjust the position after he was readily ridiculed for the about-face, suggesting that his initial comments lacked finesse.
“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday,” he said at an event in his home state.
“They are certainly entitled to be involved in politics,” he added.
By pivoting back to race as he did in the Times interview, McConnell is able to more nimbly navigate familiar terrain — focusing on the kinds of culture wars that have animated the Republican Party — rather than grasping for ways to directly challenge corporations whose contributions have often catapulted political campaigns to success.