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Geraldo Rivera to Trump: Asian friends of mine say 'China virus' has 'racial overtone'

Geraldo Rivera told President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE during an interview Thursday that Asian friends of his say the term "China virus" has "a racial overtone."

Rivera, speaking to the president on his WTAM radio show out of Cleveland, asked Trump about his repeated use of "China virus" to refer to the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

"I have some Asian friends who say, you know, that it’s not very polite, that they worry that it has a racial overtone," Rivera said.

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Trump said he doesn't worry about using the term, adding that he also has Asian friends.

“I do, too. We have great Asian support, and they understand exactly what it is that we’re doing and saying, and they understand how China’s hurt our country," Trump said.

He then went on to criticize previous administrations for their trade policies with China.

“We’ve been ripped off by China for years, they’ve been taking money out and rebuilding their country, and our presidents were either naive or stupid to allow this to happen,” Trump continued.

A July poll from The Hill and HarrisX found that 66 percent of polled registered voters thought it was inappropriate to use terms like "kung flu" and "China virus" when referring to COVID-19, while 34 percent said it was appropriate.

The coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China.

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The president's use of the term has led to some tense exchanges at White House coronavirus task force briefings, including one in May with CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang.

“Why is this a global competition when, every day, Americans are still losing their lives?” Jiang asked when Trump claimed the U.S. was performing better than other countries in handling the virus.

“They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world,” Trump replied. “And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK?”

“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang responded.

“I am not saying it specifically to anybody," Trump said. "I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that."

Other Republican leaders have described it as the "China virus" or used similar terms.

Democratic Rep. Judy ChuJudy May ChuWhy Biden's diversity efforts fall flat Asian lawmakers set sights on Biden's Labor secretary pick House Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department MORE (Calif.) said in late March that at least 1,000 hate crime incidents had been reported against Asian Americans since the pandemic hit the U.S.