Charles Booker lost no time in rebuking Kentucky’s senior senator for implying in a Thursday press conference that African Americans aren’t Americans.
“I need you to understand that this is who Mitch McConnell is,” tweeted Booker, who wants junior Sen. Rand Paul’s job. “Being Black doesn’t make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks.”
Booker, a former state representative from Louisville, is the leading contender in the May 17 Democratic primary. Paul, a Republican like McConnell, is expected to cruise to renomination in the GOP primary. The filing deadline for both primaries is Jan. 25.
Booker put out a fund-raising email Thursday, topping it with the second sentence in his tweet. He also quoted the Senate minority leader: “If you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”
He replied, “To which I say, Mitch: Black Americans are American. And I am no less American than you.”
Added Booker: “And though Mitch McConnell may be stuck thinking I’m three-fifths of a person — he’s gonna have to acknowledge me as a whole Senator when we beat Rand Paul this year.”
“Three-fifths of a person” refers to the controversial “Three-fifths Compromise,” a part of the Constitution that counted an enslaved person as three-fifths of a white person in determining a state’s representation in the U.S. House, its number of presidential electors, and how much it would owe in certain federal taxes. (The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, made the compromise obsolete.)
“This foul comment came out of Mitch McConnell’s mouth not even a day after all 50 Senate Republicans voted to protect the Jim Crow filibuster, effectively blocking the voting rights legislation that’s been sitting in the Senate for months,” Booker also said in the email.
“Mitch never cared about the filibuster when he packed the Supreme Court. His doom and gloom talk about protecting the filibuster at the expense of our voting rights — more specifically, at the expense of the voting rights of Black and brown Americans — is a shameful lie.
“Mitch has never cared about us. And today, he just happened to speak his mind, and said the quiet part out loud. All the while, Rand Paul continues to idly stand by and join him in obstructing our democracy.”