Mitch McConnell has defended his civil rights record after “inadvertently” omitting a word from a comment that established a difference between “African Americans” and “Americans”, referring to white people.
Earlier this week, the Kentucky senator was speaking alongside members of the Republican leadership at a press conference when he was asked about his message to voters afraid that without voting access protections that would be in place if the Democrats’ voting rights legislation were to pass, they will be unable to vote.
“Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” the Republican leader told the reporter.
His response to the question elicited a wave of criticism on Twitter for a choice of words that appeared to establish a difference between “African-Americans” and “Americans”.
On Friday, the Senate minority leader defended his comments by saying that the “outrageous mischaracterisation” of his record because he left one word out “inadvertently the other day, which I just now supplied to you, is deeply offensive”.
While clarifying his comments in Louisville, Mr McConnell again misspoke. He first said that he meant to add the word “almost” before Americans in his comment.
After the news conference ended, the senator consulted with an aide, who seemed to point out that he had misspoken again. Mr McConnell then returned to the mic and clarified that he meant to say the word “all” before Americans.
His initial remarks came as the Democrats’ push to change the Senate filibuster rules failed, with two senators (Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin) joining with Republicans to defeat the effort.
The vote likely dooms the current iteration of the legislation for voter rights being pushed by Democrats, the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act.
Supporters had ramped up a major campaign of activism in recent weeks with the hopes that Ms Sinema and Mr Manchin could be moved on their stubborn opposition to filibuster reform, but their efforts failed to convince the pair.