June 1st, 2009
11:14 AM ET
10 years ago

McConnell: Better things to do than play 'speech police'

(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN Sunday he disagrees with conservative commentators who have labeled Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, but said he has better things to do than be "the speech police."

"Look. I've got a big job to do dealing with 40 Senate Republicans and trying to advance the nation's agenda, and better things to do than be the speech police over people who have their views about a very important appointment," McConnell told CNN's John King on State of The Union. "So I'm not going to get into policing everybody's speech."

The comments come two days after Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, publicly repudiated recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling Obama's choice for the high court a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Cornyn told NPR Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

McConnell told King Sunday the idea that Sotomayor is a racist - a notion largely based on her 2001 speech at Berkeley - is "certainly not my view."

"My view is we ought to take a look at this nominee's qualifications,” McConnell said. “I think her life story is absolutely impressive."

But the Senate Minority Leader added he would not rule out pushing for a filibuster against Sotomayor after a thorough investigation into her past rulings and statements.

"To predict [a filibuster] in the same week that the nominee is put forward is putting the cart before the horse," McConnell said. "We have no earthly idea whether that would be appropriate at some point in the process. We've got a lot of cases to read and a lot of background to check."

Filed under: State of the Union
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Fred NJ

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then....it's a duck.

    June 1, 2009 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  2. Had It

    The Party of NO votes in a block and the spread their lies and propaganda the same way.

    They're beginning to feel the heat of their negative actions, so they pretend to change.

    Rush, you're losing control of your flock.

    June 1, 2009 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  3. Candy West Virginia

    Boycott lush limpaugh! Boycott CNN's John King!

    June 1, 2009 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  4. Polar Bears Against Palin

    These Republicans that are trying to distance themselves from Limbaugh are fakes. They are only doing it to cover their own political hide. Deep down, they feel the same was as Limbaugh and the rest of these right-wing scumbags.

    Republicans are intolerant racists, elitists, war mongers, Wall Street lovin', gun-totin', tobacco chewing, George W. Bush votin' rednecks.

    June 1, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  5. patriot

    Nice attempt at diversion Senator, but no sale. Apparently you agree with Limbaugh.

    Sotomayer's Latina women comment was silly, not racist. Even smart people make silly comments on occasion. Let's stop playing gotcha and judge her on her record.

    June 1, 2009 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  6. Republican Hypocrite

    McConnell has plenty of time to play speech police. Last year he had to deal with 49 Republican Senators. Now he only has 40 to deal with and in two years he'll probably only have 35 to deal with due to the GOP base shrinking to only include angry, white, straight, right wing men.

    June 1, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  7. Pee Wee

    The "speech police", a job best left for the Democrats.

    June 1, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    McConnell is a shrewed man. Avoid the conflict and let Rush and Newt do his talkig for him.

    What is so disgusting is that for two hundred plus years only white males influenced the jurisprudence of our country. It is unreasonable to believe that they did no bring their own prejudices of the eras in which they lived to their decisions.

    Individual or group problem solving comes from Individual or group experience. I agree with Ms. Sotomayor that someone (in this case a member of several "disadvantages" groups) can better problem solve than someone from a group who has not had the same experiences.

    Minimally Sotomayor will bring additonal perspective to the Court. After all, it is the majority decision of the nine which rules, not only one Supreme Court Justice.

    June 1, 2009 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  9. Doc

    This is the same party of yester-year. They charged the Barack Obama used the reversed racism in the election (just before they got extremely negative). I feel sorry for the republican party because their cards have long been displayed to this country. But as long as they keep playing these games the entire world will soon learn of their ways. BTW: I thought we were trying to eradicate racism??????

    June 1, 2009 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. Robert J

    In this case this may be the wisest personal statement Mc Connell Has made in years. As apolitical statement it is more Repug criticism without action. No need to get exited Dems the Repugs are self destructing with Limbaugh and Gingerich leading the way!

    June 1, 2009 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  11. Sam

    Taking the high ground with these thugs will get you nowhere.

    June 1, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  12. Fred Palafox

    Until the GOP can get a handle on the political "protiteers"like Limbaugh, Hannity, Colter, etc. I can't see how they (GOP) are going to be a viable force in American politics. I can't believe that more than about 20% of people in the U.S. actually agree with Limbaugh. You can't win elections on 20%.

    June 1, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. Jack

    How long will it be before Senator Cornyn apologises to Rush and Newt? Anyone who goes against those two demagogues eventually has to kowtow to them. Cornyn is another lackey for the Republicant party that will have to reverse his tone or suffer the wrath of Rush and Newt, the real leaders of the GOP.

    June 1, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  14. Vigla

    Rush needs to take an extended vacation so people can focus on fixing this country. His rhetoric is not only damaging and cruel, but clearly shows his distaste for anything moderate. Simply put, Rush doesn't care about his country at all, only his philosophy of hate and derision.

    Rush, a sexist-racst calling others racist is a nice touch. Your credibility (if you had any left) is all but gone.

    June 1, 2009 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  15. Ed Chambers

    Translated, Mitch McConnell cannot control any of the fascist wing of the party and chooses to stay out of the debate knowing he cannot get them to behave like human beings or change their thinking to anything resembling normalcy. It is time for the nation to realize this party is and has been led by racists and bigots for several decades and is rapidly descending into an abyss of its own making.

    The country is no longer buying the fear and smear tactics used since the Nixon years by the Repugnicans to get their way. The southern strategy of using racist fear-mongering to hold onto the white vote has backfired and they are now recognized for what they are; a group with no ideas, no alternatives and no character. Only a handful of religious zealots and white supremacists still holdout and spew venom at any ideas put forward to try and repair the damage done from almost forty years of uninterrupted Repugnican rule.

    June 1, 2009 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  16. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Everyone knows that Republicans have "better things to do" than to cry and divide. The problem is that they refuse to do those "better" things.

    June 1, 2009 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  17. Walter

    Ol' Mitch just doesn't have the stones to take on Rush.

    June 1, 2009 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  18. SGJ

    Finally... the Republicans are starting to act like decent politicians (again) who don't attack everyone who's not on board with them on everything.

    June 1, 2009 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  19. We Love Sarah

    Finally somebody is taking the grown-up position in this party!

    June 1, 2009 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. J.Crobuzon

    "I think it's terrible," said McConnell. "But I haven't got the stones to go against my party chairman, Rush Limbaugh, and actually say it WAS terrible. The best I can do is to say that in MY opinion, but not my party's, it's terrible." Then he eased on down the yellow brick road, humming "If I Only Had The Nerve."

    June 1, 2009 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  21. Michigan

    Don't worry, they'll be crawling to LImbaugh begging for forgiveness for their sin of disobedience soon enough. Anyone who thinks Rush isn't runing things in the GOP just isn't paying attention.

    June 1, 2009 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  22. Vietnam COMBAT Vet, OHIO

    I really pay no attention to what " fat slob Rush " has to say. What a big mouth jerk!

    June 1, 2009 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  23. BILL

    It's about time cooler heads in the Republican party prevailed. The type of invective from Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have no place in today's political climate. Their remarks are almost cartoonish and are not representative of mainstream Republicans.

    June 1, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
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