WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Tuesday continued to show support for corporations that condemn Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, but he cautioned that boycotts and canceled events could harm low-income workers.
Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and Major League Baseball are among the big-name brands to denounce the state’s new rules, which critics say are restrictive and will disenfranchise mostly voters of color.
“It is reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are,” Biden said at a news conference. “The other side of it is, when they in fact move out of Georgia, the people who need the help the most – the people who are making hourly wages – sometimes get hurt the most.”
Biden also declined to say whether he thinks the Masters golf tournament, which begins Thursday in Augusta, should be moved out of Georgia – a position markedly more measured than his foray into the debate over the MLB All Star Game, which was to be held in Atlanta in July.
In an ESPN interview last week, Biden said he would “strongly support” players who wanted the game moved. Less than two days later, the league announced it would relocate, citing Georgia’s “restrictions to the ballot box.”
The debate over Georgia’s new election law has become a front in two fights: the battle for voting rights in a key swing state and a culture war, with Republicans accusing companies of caving to liberal protests.
Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said big corporations should not take sides on an “incendiary issue,” such as the Georgia law – but he said he still supports them making political donations.
“I’m not talking about political contributions,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky. “Most of them contribute to both sides. They have political action committees. That’s fine. It’s legal. It’s appropriate. I support that. I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or state because you don’t like a particular law they passed. I just think it’s stupid. . . . What I’m saying here is I think this is quite stupid.”
McConnell – who has accused private companies of “behaving like a woke parallel government” – argued that companies taking a stand against a state’s policy risk losing businesses.
“Republicans drink Coca-Cola, too, and we fly, and we like baseball,” he said. “It’s irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”
McConnell’s comments are part of a wider barrage of Republican attacks on corporations, accusing them of siding with Democrats on a range of political issues and threatening unspecified consequences, straining the GOP’s relationship with traditional allies in the business community.
“Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order,” McConnell said in a Monday statement.
It’s unclear, however, what those consequences will be as Republicans largely support tax and regulation policies favored in the private sector. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, for one, decided to snub the MLB on Monday by announcing he would no longer throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. In a letter to the team, he said it was “shameful” that baseball was “being influenced by partisan political politics.”
But on Tuesday, Biden said that Georgia, and any other state that seeks to make voting more difficult, is to blame, not companies or leagues.
“The best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up,” Biden said. “Stop it. Stop it. It’s about getting people to vote.”
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The Washington Post’s sJohn Wagner contributed to this report.