U.S. senator’s wife triggers race row

AFP-JIJI

Aides to top Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell voiced outrage Tuesday after a left-leaning group suggested he supported China over the United States due to his Taiwan-born wife.

McConnell, who faces re-election next year, is married to former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. She was born in Taiwan to parents who fled mainland China and immigrated to the U.S. as a child.

Progress Kentucky, a pressure group opposed to McConnell, posted a message on Twitter noting that the Senate Republican leader was married to Chao and quipping: “May explain why your job moved to China!”

The comments were roundly condemned and the group issued an apology late Tuesday, telling a local radio station its messages “included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity” of Elaine Chao.

McConnell spokesman Jesse Benton had earlier called Chao and her family “shining examples of the American Dream” who came to the U.S. with little and built successful businesses. “It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race-baiting for political gain,” Benton said.