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Biden this week gave his most full-throated argument in favor of passing voting rights laws, arguing in favor of changing Senate filibuster rules to “defend our democracy.”
In his speech from Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, Biden asked elected officials how they want to be remembered.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 11, 2022. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” Biden said. “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?”
While some progressives cheered Biden for giving a long-awaited forceful speech on passing voting rights, some Republicans were offended. Critics criticized Biden for framing opponents to the voting laws as on the side of racists.
“George Wallace?” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in response during a floor speech Wednesday. “If you don’t pass the laws he wants, you’re Bull Connor, and if you oppose giving Democrats untrammeled, one-party control of the country, well you’re Jefferson Davis.”
McConnell blasted Biden’s comments as “profoundly unpresidential” and “deliberately divisive.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference at the Capitol Jan. 13, 2022. (C-Span screenshot )
Asked Thursday whether Biden’s speech went too far, Pelosi said she stands with Biden.
“I stand with the president,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday. “I thought his speech was wonderful … I thought it was fabulous.”
Pelosi said the “only criticism” was Biden using the example of Bull Connor, the late Alabama politician who directed the use of fire hoses and police dogs to squash civil rights protests.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“Nobody knows who Bull Connor [is],” Pelosi said.
She suggested: “Do you want to be with Martin Luther King and John Lewis or the people who unleashed the fierce dogs on them?”
Fox News’ Michael Lee and Houston Keene contributed to this report.