Mitch McConnell Comments Comparing 'African Americans' and 'Americans' Spark Outrage

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has sparked a fierce backlash for a comment where he distinguished between African American voters and Americans.

McConnell made the remark at a news conference on Wednesday, before two Democrat senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster that was preventing the passing of voting rights legislation.

During the debate, McConnell had accused Democrats of "fake hysteria" over the Senate filibuster in order to pass the legislation.

The Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would have expanded voting access, made Election Day a national holiday, ensured access to early voting and mail-in ballots, and more.

At the news conference, reporter Pablo Manríquez asked McConnell what his message was for voters of color who are concerned about their voting rights ahead of November's midterm elections.

"Well, the concern is misplaced," McConnell replied. "Because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

He continued: "A recent survey, 94 percent of Americans thought it was easy to vote. This is not a problem. Turnout is up, biggest turnout since 1900… they're being sold a bill of goods to support a Democratic effort to federalize elections… this has been a Democratic Party goal for decades."

A short video clip of McConnell's comment quickly went viral on social media, with some declaring the senator had said "the quiet part out loud" by distinguishing African American voters from Americans.

"That's the moment @LeaderMcConnell said out loud what his actions have made clear for years: that he doesn't consider African Americans to be Americans," tweeted podcaster Kristen Meinzer.

"The dogwhistle just became a foghorn," progressive commentator Brian Tyler Cohen wrote.

Bishop Talbert Swan tweeted: "I wonder what's the difference he sees between 'African-American voters' and 'Americans.' Can't qwhite put my finger on it."

Daryl Lamont Jenkins, the executive director of the One People's Project, an anti-fascist organization, shared Swan's tweet, adding: "Good work, McConnell! Here I have been for the past few days saying that when conservatives say Americans they just mean conservatives, and you went "Hold my beer" on me!"

Several people also insisted the remarks weren't a case of McConnell misspeaking, but an indication of his true feelings.

"I need you to understand that this is who Mitch McConnell is," tweeted Charles Booker, a former Kentucky state representative running for the Senate.

Booker, who is Black, added: "Being Black doesn't make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks."

Bryan Behar wrote: "McConnell did not misspeak. In one quote, he summarized the entire GOP worldview. They think it's a White nation and anyone who isn't White isn't a true American."

Democrat strategist Max Burns echoed that sentiment, writing in a tweet: "Well, if McConnell's true feelings didn't just escape his lips on live television."

McConnell's office has been contacted for comment.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a press conference following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images