West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship said Tuesday that it wasn’t racist to call Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s father (and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s father-in-law) a “Chinaperson.”
“I mean, I’m an Americanperson,” Blankenship said. “I don’t see this insinuation by the press that there’s something racist about saying a Chinaperson. Some people are Koreanpersons, some of them are Africanpersons.”
During a debate hosted by Fox News, moderator Bret Baier asked Blankenship about a radio interview he gave in which he called the shipping tycoon James Si-Cheng Chao, an American citizen, “a wealthy Chinaperson.”
Chao, Blankenship said, has “a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China, and we just need for it to be known.”
Elaine Chao, Baier said Tuesday, “is a key decider in infrastructure projects which might be a big deal in West Virginia. How do you get along and get things done by slinging insults like that?”
Blankenship said that while he was “not going to D.C. to get along,” the idea “that calling somebody a Chinaperson — I mean, I’m an Americanperson.”
“I don’t see this insinuation by the press that there’s something racist about saying a Chinaperson,” he continued. “Some people are Koreanpersons some of them are Africanpersons. It’s not any slander there. But both families are very powerful in both countries. I’ve previously been on the board of four or five major corporations. You do not send family members out to negotiate purchases and deals with other family members. It’s called a conflict of interest.”
Blankenship, a former coal baron who served prison time for conspiring to violate mine safety standards after 29 workers died in one of his mines, has made a strategy of attacking McConnell.
A Democratic super PAC has invested heavily in attacking one of Blankenship’s more polished opponents, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV), the Republican sitting Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) least wants to face in a general election.