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. Anonymous

    Rush Limbaugh needs to just stop talking all together. no one cares what he thinks or takes him seriously. hes more of an annoyance than anything. he's just looking for any little excuse to get some attention and to complain about everything that's not going his way. why people listen to him I'll never understand

    June 1, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  2. Andy J, NY, NY

    Yeah, because Mitch has sooooo much room to talk.

    the republicans can shut the hell up. bums

    June 1, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. bigTXoil

    Bush Sr. helped her get in the door so what is the problem GOP

    June 1, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  4. The New GOP

    What a coward. Every Republican is afraid of the big bad Rush LImbaugh who never even went to college. Maybe when the Republicans can find leaders with huevos and integrity they will again become the party of Ronald Reagan but now they are just a joke. All dancing to the tune of some idiot on the radio. Pathetic.

    June 1, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  5. Thinker

    Until the republican party decides who and what it is, they will be represented by idiots like Druggie rush, and grinnin idiot Gringrich. Its sad that a woman that is so qualified will hve to tolerate a drug addict, and a womanizer leading the opposition. Just show's how low the republican party is.

    June 1, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. david

    elected office holders need to hold their tongue on sotomayor. they all need the hispanic vote. rush and newt do not hold public office so they, and others like them, can rake sotomayor over the coals but to no avail. elected officials don't want to lose the hispanic or black votes.

    June 1, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. kathy

    Why do you think you dumb-ass republicans do not have any
    credibility at all? The fact that you pay any mind to that loud mouthed,
    overweight drug addict called Limbaugh scares the hell out of
    anyone. Why would I want to vote for any of you. The bunch of you
    old cronies need to go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. AJB

    Pretty sad commentary on the state of the gop. The talk from the right – from the "titular head" of the party limbaugh and gingrich has been disgusting. If they ever hope for their party to regain lost ground with women and latino voters, they sure have a funny way of going about it. I think it's disgusting that more voices have not been heard railing against the comments coming from those speaking for the gop. Disgusting. Whatever happened to backbone and common decency – it's obvious that very few if any in the republican party have any spine or sense of decency.

    June 1, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. Teleprompter of the U.S.A.

    This is just a smokescreen while UAW execs become multimmilionaires from money taken from taxpayers and given by Obama to his big union buddies.

    June 1, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    John Cornyn is right. The hate-speak coming from the GOP side is hideous! I was talking to a fellow parishioner at church yesterday and she was disgusted with the Republicans attacks on Sotomayor. Most women I know are thrilled with another woman being nominated to the highest court.

    Many people I have spoken to have never been polled, but they belong to the ever-growing-sane-middle that is America! By and large our Nation is full of fair and moderate people. The GOP should be very careful whom they allow to be their "speaker" ......... Limbaugh and the other haters turn America off.

    June 1, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Evie Lafferly

    Well, as of today, this is still USA where everybody can darn well say whatever is on our minds. We realize that this freedom is washing away with the liberal tide headed by Obama and his creepy minions. Watch the fool grin, even as he is giving his insidious instructions to his followers to destroy the USA.

    June 1, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Tres

    To Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for calling Sotomayor a "racist": It takes one to know one. As for McConnell, he's just too chicken to talk down the leader of the Republican Party.

    June 1, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Phil Muse

    So you have "better things to do than police speeches"? Well, Mitch, someone has to do the job. The Republican Party is dragged through the mire every time Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, and Rush Limbaugh open their ugly mouths. They are the voice of the GOP, yet not one of these self-righteous hate-mongers currently holds public office or is responsible to constituents of any kind! And talk about "advancing the nation's agenda," what kind of advance are you talking about? The Republicans on Capital Hill need to get busy doing the job they were elected to do: making positive input to impending legislation instead of acting as mindless obstructionists.

    June 1, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. jrzshor

    so the repubs are acting like the dems (let's all hate an unelected radio guy-so if they hit him would that be a hate crime??)?

    how weird is that!

    June 1, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. Jeff in Virginia

    And now we have the Republicans playing good-cop-bad-cop.


    June 1, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. MsDp

    I think it's time for Mitch, Steele and the GOP to grow UP!!!

    June 1, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. Ron In California

    Limbaugh and other commentators l(eft and right) play a role in national politics. In my view they sometimes say outrageous things for entertainment value. This marginalizes their opnions and shifts the focus from the issues to the commentator. They could tone it down a bit.

    For example..I used to be a Hannity fan..however, he beats the same drum over and over....got boring. On the left it is moslty name calling instead of discussing issues....more boring.

    June 1, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Sadly, Mitch McConnell is yet again taking a cynical cop out. He claims that he doesn't support the angry rhetoric of the radical right, but simultaneously doesn't step in to say that it isn't fair or accurate for fear of alienating the "Limbaugh's" of the party. Sadly, this is the type of behavior that is making moderate Republicans a rare breed – they won't stand up to the extreme conservatives of their party, so they have to bear the responsibility of their colleagues' polemics.

    June 1, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  19. Accountability

    I feel another apology coming on.....

    June 1, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Frank

    Finally the elected republican officials are growing a set and going against their defatso leader Limbaugh. Limbaugh explosion in 3....2....1

    June 1, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Derrick

    I think the GOP is insane. I can tell you now Judge Sotomayor has more experience than any of the Judes that sits on the Supreme court right now. There should be no reason to vote against this nominee.

    June 1, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  22. Steele

    Republicans have been left with the dilemma of defining the difference between being a conservative and being a reactionary. Rush and Coulter, etc., if not Reactionaries, use the rhetoric of Reactionaries. Most Republicans are conservatives. However when the party dialogue is manipulated by Reactionary rhetoric the rational conservative voice is dampened. Conservatives are left being portrayed as moderates or liberals. Quite ironic, and not at all healthy for the party or the country.

    June 1, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Ann

    "Mr" Linbaugh and "Mr" Gingrich are a couple of wanna be's, and will never be more than what they are, attention getter's with wild statements about others, they should look in the mirror, maybe they would be surprised to see what is there, radical individuals, and who care's what they have to say, not I. Ann

    June 1, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. Lynn

    Was John King's three hour Republican lovefest so devoid of content that CNN has to repeat a blog they ran as the first story all day yesterday??

    June 1, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Dave

    CNN, your headline is an exaggeration. I saw the interview, and even if I hadn't, the quote is clear. He is not necessarily in conflict, he is just not going to monitor Boss Limbaugh.

    I am no fan of either man, but you have this wrong.

    June 1, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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