WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday criticized the Texas Rangers’ decision to allow a full-capacity crowd at their stadium for their first game amid the concerns of his top health officials over recent spikes in Covid-19 cases.
He also said he would strongly support moving Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game from Georgia to protest its new restrictive voting law.
The Rangers made the decision, which will allow more than 40,000 fans to attend games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted coronavirus restrictions last month. Fans will be required to wear masks inside the stadium except when actively eating and drinking.
“That’s a decision they’ve made. I think it’s a mistake,” Biden told ESPN’s Sage Steele on the eve of Opening Day. “They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”
Other MLB teams will have their stadium capacity limited, however. The New York Yankees and Mets, for example, will be allowed to operate under 20 percent capacity at their stadiums. Fans will have to either provide a negative Covid-19 test or proof of immunization against the disease.
Asked about calls to move the All-Star Game, scheduled for July 13, from Atlanta over Georgia’s new law, Biden said, “I would strongly support them doing that.”
“The very people who were victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right,” Biden said. “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”
“Imagine passing the law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can’t do that? Come on,” Biden added, referring to one of the provisions of the law, which GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, signed last week.
Responding to Biden’s remarks, Kemp suggested on Fox News that Georgia has more opportunities to vote, including for people of color, than other states.
“We had the largest African American turnout in the 2018 November election when I got elected. You know, Joe Biden needs to focus on things that he can control, like the southern border, and that’s all this is. It’s a distraction,” Kemp said.
The governor accused Democrats of using the state’s actions to put pressure on Congress members to pass the comprehensive election overhaul bill advanced by the U.S. House.
“It is all part of a political narrative they’re pushing and we’re gonna continue to fight that,” Kemp said.