House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on Sunday that he “wholeheartedly” supports President Biden’s speech on voting rights last week, even though some congressional lawmakers have expressed dissatisfaction with his comments.
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Clyburn on NBC how he felt about Biden’s remarks in Atlanta, noting that Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) had some issues with what was said.
“I endorse them wholeheartedly. Look, when we came out of Reconstruction in 1876, we started losing the right to vote. We started losing other freedoms. And we called it Jim Crow,” Clyburn said.
“We had a very successful election in 2020. People voted at higher levels than they ever had before. And in reaction to that, Georgia, Texas, and 17 other states started passing draconian voting rights laws. That, to me, is Jim Crow 2.0. And so I like the way the president said it because that’s exactly what it is,” he continued.
During his speech in Atlanta last week, Biden directly criticized election laws passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures. Biden accused Republicans in state legislatures of “attacking voting rights” and warned that their bills would “turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion.”
“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Biden asked.
Following Biden’s address, Durbin said Biden may have gone “a little too far” with his rhetoric.
“Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric. Some of us do, but the fundamental principles and values at stake are very, very similar,” he said.
While speaking on the Senate floor last week, Romney also took issue with the implied comparison of Republicans to segregationist like Wallace and Connor.
“He charged that voting against his bill allies us with Bull Connor, George Wallace, and Jefferson Davis. So much for unifying the country and working across the aisle,” Romney said, criticizing what he took as accusations of “racist inclinations” from Biden against his GOP colleagues.
White House press Secretary Jen Psaki later called the reactions to Biden’s speech “hilarious,” considering the remarks that former President Trump had made during his time in office.
“I know there has been a lot of claims of the offensive nature of the speech yesterday, which is hilarious on many levels, given how many people sat silently over the last four years for the former president,” she said.