The White House walks the fine line on MLB moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta

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WASHINGTON – Almost a week after President Joe Biden indicated that he supported Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star Game out of Georgia due to recent voting laws, the White House set out Monday to clarify its position.

“He wasn’t dictating what Major League Baseball should do,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference Monday. “That was his decision, they made their decision and he certainly supports it.”

The press secretary’s comments deviated somewhat from Biden’s remarks to ESPN last Wednesday, where he expressed strong support for the decision to move the July 13 game from Atlanta.

“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsible,” Biden told the sports network on March 31, two days before MLB announced his departure. “I would strongly support them in doing that. People look at them. They are leaders.”

Plus: MLB moves 2021 All-Star Game to Atlanta in response to Georgia voting law

Psaki argued to reporters that the Biden administration was not, in fact, saying that MLB should relocate, but that the league and the players had the final say on the matter.

“He supports them so that they can make the decision and respond to the requests of their players. Many of them are affected by these laws,” said Psaki.

Georgia is poised to host another high-profile sporting event this week, the Masters Golf Tournament, in Augusta, Georgia, hosted by the PGA. Psaki did not say when asked if Biden would support golfers sitting outside the Masters in protest of Georgia’s voting law.

“Our focus is to do what we can to advocate for easier and more accessible voting across the country. That is where our efforts from the White House will be.”

MLB decided to move its All-Star Game to Georgia after the Republican-controlled state legislature passed and Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a voting bill package that Democrats and advocates say will disproportionately disproportionate to minority voters.

MLB has not announced a replacement city to host the game.

Plus: President Joe Biden Says He ‘Would Strongly Support’ Moving MLB All-Star Game Out Of Atlanta

The bill adds additional requirements for voter identification to vote; allows counties to choose whether to allow Sunday voting; shortens the period during which a voter can request an absentee ballot; reduces the time between the general elections and the second round; and prohibits the delivery of food and water to voters waiting in line some distance from a polling place, among other reforms.

“Look at what happened across the board. The same people who are the most victimized are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it just isn’t right,” Biden said during the ESPN interview. “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”

Georgia-based and heavily invested corporations, including Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, have spoken out against the bill, drawing the ire of many Republican lawmakers across the country.

“We have not asked the corporations to take specific actions,” Psaki said. during the briefing on Monday, although it is still “important that the vote [is] easier, not more difficult “and that” when there are laws in force that are more difficult, we certainly express our opposition to those laws. “

Plus: ‘He’s sick’: Biden criticizes Republican efforts in state legislatures to limit voting rights

Kemp dismissed the White House’s criticism of the law, saying the president has misinterpreted what he would do.

“When the president of the United States says something, you know a lot of people pay attention. But what Joe Biden has to do is look side by side of Georgia and Delaware,” Kemp told Fox News on April 1. interview. “He’s focused on trying to get the majors to get the Georgia game out, which is ridiculous.”

“The spread of misinformation by the Biden White House continues. The Election Integrity Act makes it easy to vote and difficult to cheat.” Kemp tweeted the same day. in response to a statement by Psaki criticizing the voting law.

On Monday, Psaki pushed back one of the president’s past criticisms: that the voting law reduced voting hours on Election Day. But he said the law reduces the hours for early voting “so there are many components that concern him.”

The governor has also criticized corporate moves to oppose the law.

“There is nothing I can do about it,” Kemp said. “I’m not going to let these people intimidate me. But I also don’t run a public corporation. They will have to answer to their shareholders. There are a lot of people who work for them and have done business with them who are very upset. “

Plus: Stacey Abrams: Don’t boycott corporations for voting rights yet. First press them to speak.

Georgia Democrats have sided with the White House. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told MSNBC that the measures are “likely” the beginning of a larger protest from the business community supporting access to the vote.

“The Atlanta metropolitan area is home to 30, almost 40, Fortune 500 companies. This will have a tremendous impact on our state when boycotted,” Bottoms said, warning that the law would harm businesses and residents of the state.

“The legislature passed something that has restricted access to the polls, [Gov. Kemp] he made it law and now we are all suffering the consequences, “said Bottoms.

Reach out to Matthew Brown on Twitter @mrbrownsir and Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison,

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