Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Ky.) on Saturday blasted a liberal super-PAC for a tweet targeting his wife’s ethnicity.
“They will not get away with attacking my wife in this campaign,” said McConnell during a speech to Republican supporters in Winchester, Ky., according to reports.
"This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress -- she's his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!," it read.
The tweet linked to a webpage run by local radio host Jeff Rense, which charged that Chao, a native of Taiwan, discriminated against U.S. workers while running the Labor Department in the George W. Bush administration.
McConnell also addressed the controversy in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" saying that his 2014 fight had “started early," with “a "left-wing group in Kentucky that has already issued racial slurs against my wife and already questioned my own patriotism."
The "left is fully engaged in Kentucky and they'd love to take out the Republican leader of the Senate," he added.
McConnell defended his wife, calling her a “proud Chinese-American.”
He also declined to address speculation that he could face a challenge from actress and activist Ashley Judd, saying he would need to wait to see who Democrats decide to run against him.
"It will be a spirited race from whomever they ultimately choose," said McConnell.
The super-PAC apologized last month for what it called an “unnecessary comment.”
"We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question,” said Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly. “In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress KY are reviewed and approved prior to posting.”
The incident drew criticism from both ends of the aisle. National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Communications Director Brad Dayspring called the tweet “disgusting,” while Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Justin Barasky slammed it as “completely out of line.”
Vicki Needham contributed
This story was updated at 10:04 a.m.