CNN's Costello Attacks GOP on Voter ID: 'To Critics, It Seems That They are Trying to Suppress the Black Vote'

On Wednesday in the 10 AM EDT hour, CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello and Democratic strategist Paul Begala attacked both the GOP and Jeb Bush for their positions on voter ID laws. Costello dismissed Republican voter ID concerns by asserting that there “are very few cases of voter fraud in our nation.” She added that, to critics, “it seems that they are trying to suppress the black vote.”

After briefly congratulating the former Florida governor for removing the Confederate flag from state grounds 14 years ago, Begala went after Bush: “But there is a reality here in America, we've got to do better by voting rights, where the Republicans, especially Jeb Bush, have terrible records. He purged voters in Florida.”

Begala continued to hit Bush for his policies while he was governor, and once again focused on the candidate’s supposedly bad record with African-Americans: 

And while he was governor, he did some things of substance that were just terrible for African-Americans. He ended affirmative action, caus[ing] enormous pain in the African-American community. He purged voters from the rolls, which the Miami Herald and others have said had a hugely disproportionate impact on African-Americans. 

Toward the end of the segment, when Republican strategist Ana Navarro attempted to defend Bush’s record by saying his education policies benefitted African-Americans, Costello interjected: “I think it's only improved the statistics among Hispanics. I don't think it's improved it among African-Americans...we’ll have to look that up and get the statistics.”

The relevant portion of the transcript is below. 

CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello

June 24, 2015

PAUL BEGALA: But there is a reality here in America, we've got to do better by voting rights, where the Republicans, especially Jeb Bush, have terrible records. He purged voters in Florida. We have to do more about jobs, income, growing the economy, health care, educational opportunities. Let’s come together on all these things now to make life better for all us. 

COSTELLO: And Ana, I was going to bring up voter ID laws, because Republican-controlled states across the nation have enacted tough voter ID laws when there are very few cases of voter fraud in our nation. To critics, it seems they are trying to suppress the black vote. So, should candidates focus on things like jobs and education rather than Confederate flags and statues of Jefferson Davis? 

ANA NAVARRO: Frankly, they're all important. Symbols are just as important as policy is. And because I think it lends itself to creating a culture where we can all have better race relations. But I do want to respond to Paul when he says what took Republicans so long. I want to tell you, I support a guy, Jeb Bush, who took down the Confederate flag from Florida 14 years ago. Did it not under the national glare, didn’t do it as the aftermath of a horrific tragedy. He did it because it was the right thing to do. 

BEGALA: Yes, Jeb did. He needs to be congratulated for this. He took the Confederate flag down. The Washington Post today revealed some of his e-mails during that time where he took a lot of static and personally responded to people who were angry with him – people from his own base. I admire that. Nothing can take away from that. I think he did the right thing for the right reasons at the right time. And while he was governor, he did some things of substance that were just terrible for African-Americans. He ended affirmative action, caus[ing] enormous pain in the African-American community. He purged voters from the rolls, which the Miami Herald and others have said had a hugely disproportionate impact on African-Americans. It made the state close enough so that Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush and Justice Scalia could steal it from Al Gore. So, very mixed record there. I’d love to talk more about Jeb Bush’s record on African-Americans. 

NAVARRO: I don't know, Paul. He did not –  he replaced affirmative action when it came to college quotas with a specific plan to be able to allow the top 20% of all Florida students, which included a lot of black students, to go to college. And it has improved the graduation rates of Hispanics, of African-Americans in Florida. Go look at the statistics. I'm proud to stand by that record. 

COSTELLO: I think it's only improved the statistics among Hispanics. I don't think it's improved it among African-Americans. 

NAVARRO: It has. 

COSTELLO: It has? Okay, we'll have to look that up and get the statistics –  I'd love to have this conversation again with both of you. 

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