‘Go back and read what I said’: Biden snaps back at reporter who asked him about the president’s comparison of political opponents to white supremacist Bull Connor
- President Joe Biden raised his voice at Real Clear Politics reporter Phil Wegmann during Wednesday’s press conference
- Wegmann wanted to know if invoking Bull Connor and George Wallace’s names during last week’s voting rights speech backfired
- The reporter pointed out that Biden had pledged a ‘return to civility’ and then said those objecting to voting rights were in the ‘same camp’ as the racists
- ‘No I didn’t say that. Look what I said. Go back and read what I said,’ said Biden, getting louder as he made each statement
- Wegmann told Biden he wanted to know if the president believed that kind of rhetoric worked with rogue Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema
- ‘I was speaking out forcefully about what I think to be at stake,’ Biden said
President Joe Biden snapped at a reporter Wednesday who asked if invoking white supremacists like Bull Connor and George Wallace and saying those who didn’t support voting rights legislation were in the ‘same camp’ as them backfired.
‘No I didn’t say that. Look what I said. Go back and read what I said,’ said Biden, getting louder as he made each statement, to Real Clear Politics reporter Phil Wegmann. ‘And tell me if you think I called anyone who voted on the side of – the position taken by Bull Connor – that they were Bull Connor.’
At Wednesday’s White House press conference marking the end of Biden’s first year in office, Wegmann pointed out that Biden had campaigned on a ‘return to civility.’
‘No I didn’t say that. Look what I said. Go back and read what I said,’ President Joe Biden shouted at a reporter during Wednesday’s press conference when he was asked referencing Bull Connor and George Wallace in a voting rights speech last week
Real Clear Politics reporter Phil Wegmann got yelled at by President Joe Biden after asking him about invoking the names of white supremacists like Bull Connor and George Wallace and saying those who didn’t support voting rights legislation were in the ‘same camp’ as them
‘And I know that you dispute the characterization that you called folks who would oppose those voting bills as being Bull Connor or George Wallace, but you said that they would be sort of in the same camp,’ Wegmann noted.
At that, Biden started yelling.
‘I assume you got into journalism because you like to write,’ the president uttered.
Wegmann then tried to finish his question.
‘Did you expect that would work with Senators Manchin or Sinema?’ the reporter asked.
Biden traveled to Atlanta last week to deliver a big voting rights speech, only to still have the two moderate Democrats say no, that they would not support a special carve-out of the filibuster to muscle this specific legislation through the upper chamber.
In Atlanta, Biden asked lawmakers how they wanted to be remembered.
‘On the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?’ he asked. ‘Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?’
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Biden for making those comparisons.
At the press conference, Biden said ‘there are certain things that are so consequential you have to speak from your heart as well as your head.’
‘I was speaking out forcefully about what I think to be at stake,’ Biden said.
‘No one, no one, forgets who was on the side of King versus Bull Connor. The history books will note it,’ he continued.
‘Don’t think this is a freebie. You don’t get to vote this way and somehow this goes away. This will stick with you the rest of your career and long after you’re gone,’ the president added.
Biden later told reporters that he had reached out to McConnell after the Kentucky Republican objected to the president’s comments in the speech – and said he would talk again to Sen. Mitt Romney too.
Romney said that he hadn’t heard from the White House on voting rights, despite sometimes being a swing vote.
‘I have no reluctance to reach out to any Republican,’ Biden said.
Wegmann was given a chance to ask a question after Biden stopped calling on reporters from a list he kept at the podium.
Instead, he worked through the rest of the room.
Prior to getting to Wegmann, Biden took a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy after the journalist demanded to be called on.
‘Why are you trying to hard to pull the country so far to the left?’ Doocy asked the president.
The president laughed at the question.
‘Well I’m not, I don’t know what you consider to be too far to the left,’ he answered, pointing that in his first year he got Americans money for COVID relief and infrastructure.
‘I’m not Bernie Sanders. I’m not a socialist. I’m a mainstream Democrat,’ Biden said.