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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) conceded Wednesday that President Joe Biden might have taken his rhetoric a bit too far when he compared his political opponents to traitors and segregationists during his speech in Georgia the day before.
Durbin joined CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Lead” to discuss the bill Biden had gone to Georgia to promote — which would implement a sweeping overhaul of federal elections — and Senate Democratic leadership’s plan to scrap or at least modify the filibuster in order to get it passed.
Tapper began with Biden’s own words from his speech: “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?”
“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?”
— President Biden urges lawmakers to support voting rights legislation pic.twitter.com/cIpacwOFyq
— The Recount (@therecount) January 11, 2022
“Are there not legitimate reasons that a senator, a Democratic senator, might be concerned that changing the filibuster rule will set a horrible precedent that Republicans will exploit to do something like pass a nationwide abortion ban or something like that, without saying that Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin are like Bull Connor or Jefferson Davis?” Tapper asked.
Durbin argued that his party’s inability to move any legislation specific to Biden’s agenda through the divided Senate justified a push to change the rules
“Joe Biden came to the United States Senate on a civil rights platform. That’s why he ran in the first place. And the fact he shows emotion when it comes to the voting rights of Americans, I’m glad he did,” Durbin continued.
“But you’re comparing, or Biden is comparing, and you’re not criticizing, the idea of a legislator reducing the number of days for early voting from 15 to 10 or wanting voters to present a photo ID before they vote, you’re comparing that to Bull Connor, who literally set dogs upon civil rights protestors. George Wallace, who said segregation today, segregation forever, I’m paraphrasing, or Jefferson Davis, the president of the traitorous confederacy. I mean, isn’t that a little stark?” Tapper pressed.
“Perhaps the President went a little too far in his rhetoric… But the fundamental principles and values at stake are very, very similar,” Sen. Dick Durbin says about Biden’s remarks on voting rights in which he referenced Jefferson Davis and Bull Connor. https://t.co/PQIos3OHA0 pic.twitter.com/UBwrSjFQwt
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) January 12, 2022
“It is stark. And I will concede that point,” Durbin agreed. “But don’t overlook the reality that in 20 different states governed and led by Republicans in legislature and in governorship, and each and every one of them, they are taking step by weary step to make sure that fewer Americans vote.”
Durbin went on to claim that the comparisons were accurate, claiming that the segregationists wanted to reduce the number of Americans who could vote too, but he conceded, “Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric, some of us do.”