President Joe Biden is endorsing the idea of Major League Baseball pulling its All-Star Game from Atlanta this year in response to Georgia’s new election law.
What You Need To Know
- President Joe Biden told ESPN on Wednesday that he would "strongly support" Major League Baseball pulling its All-Star Game from Atlanta this year in response to Georgia’s new election law
- MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark have started discussing the possibility of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta this July over concerns about the legislation
- Georgia is feeling increasing pressure from the corporate world, including from Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, since Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill last week.
- In the ESPN interview, Biden also said it is a mistake for the Texas Rangers to fully reopen their Globe Life Field to fans Thursday
In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, Biden said he’d “strongly support” such a move and applauded sports figures who are speaking out against the law. Georgia Republicans who passed the legislation argue it will strengthen election security, but critics have blasted it as a blatant attempt to suppress left-leaning voters after Democrats won in Georgia in the presidential election and two U.S. Senate races.
“I think today's professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden said. “People look to them. They're leaders. Look at what's happened with the NBA as well. Look what's happening across the board. The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports. And it's just not right.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark have started discussing the possibility of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta this July over concerns about the legislation.
“He [Clark] wanted to have a conversation,” Manfred told The Associated Press. “I completely understand why Tony would want to have a conversation about this topic. We’ve actually had a preliminary kind of conversation, and there will be more substantive conversations about that. I am talking to various constituencies within the game and I’m just not going beyond that in terms of what I would consider or not consider.”
The move would not be unprecedented. In 2017, the NBA moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans in response to North Carolina’s newly passed law mandating transgender people use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Georgia is feeling increasing pressure from the corporate world since Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill last week. Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines — both headquartered in Atlanta — have condemned the voting law after facing calls for boycotts.
"This legislation is wrong, it needs to be remedied, and we will continue to advocate for it, both in private and in now even more clearly in public," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told CNBC on Wednesday.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian called Georgia's voting law "unacceptable" and said that the "entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie,” former President Donald Trump’s false claims about widespread election fraud.
And more than 70 Black business leaders have signed an open letter calling for corporate America to take action against restrictive voting laws.
The Georgia law adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, cuts the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. It also bans people from handing out food or water to voters waiting in line and allows the Republican-controlled State Election Board to remove and replace county election officials while curtailing the power of the secretary of state as Georgia’s chief elections officer.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids what they're doing in Georgia and 40 other states,” Biden told ESPN. “Imagine passing the law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can't do that? Come on! Or you're going to close a polling place at 5:00 when working people just get off. This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”
Kemp has insisted the law has been misrepresented. He accused businesses of ignoring their role in its development.
“I think it's a mistake,” Biden said. “They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it's not responsible.”
The president did not directly answer a question about whether he was OK with the NFL planning to full opening stadiums this fall, but he urged officials to take a cautious approach when it comes to reopening.
“I think it's just in terms of being responsible,” he said. “You see what's happening in Europe now when they lifted the mandates. They're going back. I don't know why we just don't follow the science and beat this, just flat out beat it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.