WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would support moving MLB’s July All-Star Game from Atlanta as a protest against Georgia’s new voting restrictions.
“I would strongly support them doing that,” Biden told ESPN. “It’s just not right. This is Jim Crow on steroids what they’re doing in Georgia.”
The state last week strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a crime to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.
Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp says the law is “another step to making our elections fair and secure.”
But it faces legal challenges from civil rights groups that contend the law is aimed at suppressing voting among Black people and other racial minorities.
Biden said that athletes were behaving responsibly in lending their voices to a protest against the law.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday declined to call for a boycott of Georgia businesses as a result of the new law.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co and Delta Air Lines on Wednesday joined a bid by U.S. companies to challenge the restrictions.
Biden also told ESPN that it is a mistake for the Texas Rangers baseball team to reopen its 40,000-seat stadium at full capacity.
“Well, that’s a decision they made,” Biden said. “It’s a mistake.”
Biden has been pushing back on moves by state governors to reopen in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that hospitalizations are rising from the disease that has already killed 550,000 people in the United States.
The Major League Baseball season starts on Thursday.
Many teams are opening to reduced crowds but the Rangers plan to welcome a full crowd for their first home game, against the Toronto Blue Jays, on Monday.
“It’s not responsible,” Biden said.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Michael Perry)