McConnell declines to say if Blankenship ads are ‘racist’

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to fire back at ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship on Tuesday, refusing to say if the GOP Senate candidate’s ads targeting his family are racist.

“Well, we’re going to find out what happens in West Virginia tonight, and I may have more to say about that tomorrow,” McConnell told reporters when asked if Blankenship’s ads are “racist.” 

Blankenship has made McConnell his primary target during the West Virginia Senate Republican primary. He told a West Virginia radio station last month that McConnell could be biased because the father of his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is a “Chinaperson.” 


Blankenship has doubled down on his comments since then, including a controversial ad where he said McConnell has helped create jobs for “China people” and received money from his “China family.”

Chao was born in Taiwan. Her parents emigrated from China to the United States and founded an international shipping company.

McConnell previously dismissed Blankenship’s “Chinaperson” comment as “ridiculous.”

“My father-in-law is an American, who lives in New York. Works in New York. And I don’t have any comment about ridiculous observations like that,” McConnell told Fox News late last month.  

Republicans are keeping a wary eye on Tuesday’s West Virginia primary, where Blankenship appears to have momentum as voters head to the polls.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) hasn’t said what, if any, support they will give Blankenship if he wins the party’s nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in a state that Trump won by 42 points in 2016.

Asked on Tuesday if he and the NRSC would support Blankenship, McConnell demurred until after the election results are in.

“Well, we’ll wait and see who wins,” he told reporters. 

Tags 2018 midterms Elaine Chao Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell Republican Primary Senate West Virginia

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