Psaki pushes back on criticism of Biden's voting rights speech

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  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States
  • Jen Psaki
    Jen Psaki
    American political advisor and White House press secretary
  • Mitt Romney
    Mitt Romney
    United States Senator
  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States


The White House on Wednesday pushed back on rebukes of President Biden's speech in Georgia, calling criticism from some Republican lawmakers "hilarious."

"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," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday, referring to former President Trump.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Wednesday accused Biden of going down "the same tragic road" as Trump in his remarks in Georgia, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the speech a "rant" that was "incoherent, incorrect and beneath his office."

"I would note that in our view and the president's view what is far more offensive is the effort to suppress peoples' basic right to exercise who they want to support and who they want to elect. That's not a partisan thing, and that was why he gave such a strong speech yesterday," Psaki said in response.

Biden, in Georgia on Tuesday, made the case for changing the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance, so Senate Democrats can pass election and voting legislation.

Romney warned of the consequences of getting rid of the filibuster and asserted that the power afforded to the Senate minority helps ensure that laws passed in the Senate appeal to both political parties.

"With all due respect to Sen. Romney, I think anyone would note there's a night-and-day difference between fermenting an insurrection based on lies totally debunked by 80 judges, including Trump-appointed ones, and election authorities across the country and making objective true statements, which is what the president made yesterday, about the effects of a coordinated nationwide effort to undermine the constitutional right to vote," Psaki said.

Psaki said McConnell's comments are "even more disappointing" because Biden considers McConnell a friend.

Biden also told reporters in the Capitol earlier on Thursday, "I like Mitch McConnell. He's a friend." He visited to pay his respects to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who was lying in state.

McConnell, in his rebuke, also said he "liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years" but that he didn't recognize him yesterday.

Pskai added that McConnell has supported and advocated for voting rights in the past, wrote about the issue in his book, and repeatedly voted for the extension of voting rights protections.

"I think it clearly struck a nerve, the president's speech yesterday and the vice president's remarks. I think there's evidence of that. But to us and to the president what is irresponsible, unbecoming and divisive is the coordinated effort by far too many Republicans across the country to perpetuate the 'big lie' and make it more difficult to vote," she added.

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