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White House Spins Biden’s All-Star Game Remarks: He Didn’t Definitively Say He Supported Moving All-Star Game From Georgia

Psaki framed Biden’s answer as being supportive of the players’ capacity to make a decision rather than the decision itself.
US President Joe Biden speaks on the shooting incident in Atlanta before taking part in a virtual bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin in the Oval Office at the White House on March 17, 2021 in Washington,DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to mitigate the effect of comments President Biden made last week in which he stated that he supported major league baseball players who wanted to relocate the All-Star game from Atlanta because Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that dealt with voting law.

Biden stated, “I would strongly support them doing that.”

At the White House press briefing on Monday, a reporter asked, “I just wanted to ask you a question about Major League Baseball. The league decided to move its All-Star Game out of Atlanta. That’s something that the President said he supported before. Does he then agree with their decision to move that game out of Atlanta because of the voting law?

Psaki framed Biden’s answer as being supportive of the players’ capacity to make a decision rather than the decision itself. She stated:

Well, I wish I had had this with me on Friday because I got asked a question and there’s just some help, what I thought would be helpful context. I know you probably don’t have the transcript in front of you. So when the president was asked during an ESPN interview last week, he was asked the question, “Last week, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director said that he would look forward to discussing moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta in the wake of Georgia’s governor signing into law a bill passed by the Republican-led state legislature to overhaul how its state elections are run. How do you view this possibility of moving the All-Star Game out of Georgia?”

He said, “I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that.” He was not dictating up for what Major League Baseball should do, that they should … Dictating they should move the All-Star Game, that was their decision. They made that decision. As he stated earlier, he certainly supports that.

The reporter persisted, “He does support the decision to move the game, then?

“Well, he supports them being able to make the decision and respond to what their players’ asks are given,” Psaki answered. “Many of them are impacted of course, by these laws.”

Later at the briefing, another reporter queried, “Just to follow up on the baseball All-Star Game. I know that you made a point that he did not dictate the league, move the All-Star Game out of Georgia, but he likes to say the words of a President matter. He said he would strongly support if players in the league wanted to do that and they did it. Does he think that the PGA should move The Masters Tournament that begins this week out of Georgia?”

Psaki dodged, “I’m not here to call for anyone on behalf of the President or the Vice President or anyone to take steps and reactions to the law in Georgia. The President was asked a direct question and the context of the question was also around the league meeting to discuss this exact issue and answered the question.”

The reporter pressed, “Then should we believe that if PGA Tour players were arriving in Augusta this week or today to register for the tournament, if they got together and decided to, or talked about not participating, that is something he would strongly support or is there a difference …”

Paski replied, “I’m sure you will ask me that question or him this question, but our focus is on doing what we can to advocate for making voting easier and more accessible around the country. That’s where our efforts are going to be from the White House.”

Last week, Sage Steele of ESPN asked Biden:

Tony Clark is the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. He says he would “look forward” to discussing moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill passed by the Republican state legislature to overhaul how state elections are run. So, Mr. President, what do you think about the possibility that baseball decides to move their All Star Game out of Atlanta because of this political issue?

“I think today’s athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden answered. “I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders. Look at what happened with the NBA, as well. Look what’s happened across the board. The very people who were victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right. This is Jim Crow on steroids what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states. What’s it all about? Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can’t do that? Come on. Or you’re going to close the polling place at 5 o’clock when people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”

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