Former President Donald Trump on Friday called for a boycott of Major League Baseball, after it announced it would be pulling the All-Star Game from Georgia as a protest to the state's new restrictive voting law. Trump said that MLB's leadership was "afraid of the Radical Left Democrats," claiming the party pressured the league to relocate its mid-summer game because of Georgia's new election law, recently signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
The league announced on Friday that it would no longer host its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta after Georgia passed a restrictive voting law. On the other hand, former President Barrack Obama has praised the move. On Saturday, Obama congratulated the league "for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens."
Trump in a statement on Friday urged fans to "Boycott baseball." He said, "Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats who do not want voter ID, which is desperately needed, to have anything to do with our elections."
However, he didn't stop there. He further said that "all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections" should also be boycotted. "And in case there was any doubt who he was referring to he went on to call out a few companies by name: "Are you listening Coke, Delta, and all!"
Trump joins other several other conservative lawmakers and commentators who have been calling for punitive measures against the league for its decision to move out of the state. Senator Mike Lee tweeted. "It's time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations - especially those that punish their political opponents."
Similarly, Rep. Jeff Duncan said he had instructed his staff to draft legislation to remove a federal antitrust exemption for the league. He said MLB officials had sought to "undermine election integrity laws." "Why does @MLB still have antitrust immunity?"
Obama Praises Decision
Trump's statement came moments after MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred announced the decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said in a statement. He said that the decision was taken following "thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views."
After those conversations, Manfred said he "decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year's All-Star Game and MLB Draft."
That said, Trump's comments didn't go down well with many, especially some of the supporters and sponsors of the league. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said the company was "disappointed." Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the Georgia law was "unacceptable and does not match Delta's Values."
The league's decision to move out of Atlanta, however, drew immediate praise from Obama. He said, it's a fitting way to honor former Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who broke down racial barriers during his storied career.
"Congratulations to [MLB] for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens," Obama tweeted on Saturday. "There's no better way for America's pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example."
The new Georgia law prohibits electioneering within several dozen feet of a polling station, requires identification to register for an absentee ballot and expands weekend early voting. Georgia also played key role in President Joe Biden's victory over Trump in November, and Biden has called the bill "Jim Crow in the 21st Century" and "an atrocity." Earlier on Wednesday, he had told ESPN â before the MLB made its decision â that he would "strongly support" moving the game out of Atlanta.