McConnell defends his civil rights record after ‘inadvertent’ comment sparked backlash

“This outrageous misrepresentation of my record following the inadvertent omission of a word the other day, which I just provided to you, is deeply offensive,” the Kentucky Republican said Friday in Louisville.

At his weekly policy press briefing on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, McConnell was asked if voters of color would be hurt if the Democrats’ election legislation didn’t pass, and he replied, “L Worry is misplaced because if you look at the statistics, African American voters vote in as high a percentage as Americans. »

He misspoke again on Friday and incorrectly stated what the omitted word was and had to go back to the mics to clean it up again. At first, he said he meant the word “almost” before the Americans in his comment. At the end of his press conference, he returned to the microphones after consulting an aide, who appeared to tell him he had gotten it wrong again, clarifying that he had meant the omitted word was “everything”.

Earlier this week, McConnell’s office told CNN the senator meant “other” Americans.

McConnell said Friday that in terms of his life and career, “I was there for Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in the audience. When I was a student at (the University of Louisville ), I helped organize the March on Frankfort, the first state public housing law. Thanks to my role model, John Sherman Cooper, I was there when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act at the Capitol in 1965.”

A reporter asked him how omitting that word, depending on who was listening, had changed the meaning of the sentence, if he saw that point of view and what he would say to those who were offended.

McConnell responded that he would discuss his voting rights history again and defended his record of hiring black staff, as well as promoting Daniel Cameron to state attorney general.

“We have a new attorney general from Kentucky. He was a McConnell Fellow at the University of Louisville,” he said. “I think he would confirm with you that I recruited him to run, that I supported him and that I am proud of him. I had speechwriters, planners, office managers Americans over the years.”

In remarks at an event called the “Annual Conference of Kentuckians for Better Transportation,” McConnell also touted the bipartisan infrastructure law on Friday, saying it was “a big deal” for his state, and reiterated to how “proud” he was of his vote. for the legislation, despite taking “some heat for it” from former President Donald Trump.

McConnell said he was “regrettably” the only Republican in the Kentucky delegation to vote for the infrastructure bill. “He has become, in my view, unnecessarily politicized in the House,” he said. “So you ended up having very few House Republicans … who voted for that.”

“I’m proud of my vote. I was criticized a bit by someone who was president, but I’m proud of my vote,” he added. “I think it was the right thing to do for America, the right thing to do for the country.”

CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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