MSNBC's Al Sharpton: Biden's voting address was a 'you're going to hell' speech, not a vote-getting one
Al Sharpton: Biden’s address wasn’t a ‘vote-getting’ speech
MSNBC host and Joe Biden ally Al Sharpton discusses President Biden’s comparison of GOP opponents to election legislation to segregationists.
MSNBC’s Al Sharpton said President Biden’s emotionally charged address Tuesday didn’t seem like one intended to win support for sweeping Democratic election legislation, calling it a “you’re going to hell” speech.
Sharpton, a liberal activist in addition to his weekend hosting duties on MSNBC, was on hand for Biden’s Atlanta address, where the president framed the debate over Democratic election overhauls in stark terms: Either you were with reviled figures like segregationist Gov. George Wallace and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, or on the side of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., and the late John Lewis, whom one of the proposed Democratic voting bills is named after.
MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said Biden’s rhetoric “may have overshot the mark,” as he seeks to persuade moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., to eliminate the filibuster, which creates a 60-vote threshold to advance legislation.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 11, 2022.
“Why did he do that? What was his point?” he asked co-host Willie Geist. “I say this with love in my heart. He was virtue-signaling to activists who think it took him too long to get there. I think he may have overshot the mark.”
Asked by Geist what he thought Biden’s objective was with his strong words, Sharpton said Biden’s emotion was due in part to visiting King’s grave and visiting with the civil rights leader’s family beforehand.
“I thought it was a good speech,” Sharpton said. “Now, in this particular case, dealing with my friend and brother Joe, if he was trying to get votes, it was not the vote-getting speech … I’m a minister. Either you get up, and you try to persuade people of their sins and appeal to their better angels. But when they come to church, and they still have the jug of whiskey up under the pew, you say, you’re going to hell. I think he gave a ‘you’re going to hell’ speech.”
Al Sharpton leaves the West Wing of the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on July 8, 2021.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Biden, a self-proclaimed institutionalist, has reversed an old position by calling for eliminating the filibuster if necessary to specifically get voting legislation passed. He and Vice President Kamala Harris are aggressively pushing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which overhaul the U.S. election system. No Republicans are on board with the laws, which they frame as efforts to usurp states’ rights to run their own elections.
Biden’s fire-and-brimstone approach won some accolades on MSNBC on Wednesday, however, with co-host Mika Brzezinski saying Republican foes had given him no choice.
Conservatives railed against the address, with National Review’s Rich Lowry saying Biden’s abandonment of his support for filibuster was proof that he was a “hack,” while John Podhortez wrote in the New York Post that Biden delivered a “wildly demagogic speech designed to make Twitter blue-checks do a Snoopy dance of joy while embracing an effort with no chance of actual success.”
Al Sharpton introduces Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the National Action Network South Carolina Ministers’ Breakfast on Feb. 26, 2020, in North Charleston. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
National Journal called Biden’s election law push a distraction from more significant issues like the pandemic, the economy, and crime.
While Sharpton was present for Biden’s address, one notable Democratic ally wasn’t: Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat running for governor in 2022. She cited a scheduling conflict, leaving some observers stunned she would snub the president on her home turf.
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