McConnell's wife pushes back against slur in his first re-election ad
March 13th, 2013
10:02 AM ET
2 years ago

McConnell's wife pushes back against slur in his first re-election ad

(CNN) – Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is using her husband Mitch McConnell's first 2014 re-election TV commercial to push back against a recent attack on her ethnicity.

In the ad, released Wednesday by the Senate minority leader's campaign, Chao looks into the camera and says "you've seen the ads attacking my husband. As Mitch McConnell's wife, I've come to expect them. Now, far left special interests are also attacking my ethnicity, even attacking Mitch's patriotism because he's married to me. That's how low some people will stoop."

Chao is referring to a controversy ignited by the liberal group Progress Kentucky, which is focused on defeating McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate who faces re-election next year back home in Kentucky. In a tweet, the group drew a connection between Chao, who's Chinese-American, and the practice of outsourcing of jobs.

"This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress – she's his #wife," read the February 14 tweet from the group, referring to McConnell by his official Twitter account. "May explain why your job moved to #China!"

After strong criticism from McConnell's campaign and even from actress and activist Ashley Judd, who is seriously considering a Democratic Senate challenge to McConnell, Kentucky Progress apologized to the senator, his wife, and the group's supporters for the tweet.

"Those tweets did not reflect our values, and we are committed to making sure nothing like that happens again," wrote Shawn Reilly, the group's executive director.

In the new commercial, Chao goes on to say that "Mitch works his heart out to protect Kentucky from Washington's bad ideas because Mitch loves Kentucky. We love Kentucky. The meanest personal attacks can never change that."

A photograph of President Obama sitting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the top two Democrats in Congress, appears in the ad as Chao says "Washington's bad ideas."

The ad, which CNN reported on Tuesday, is going up more than a year and a half before a the 2014 election, which is rare in congressional contests, especially for incumbents. When McConnell's counterpart, Reid, aired commercials around a year before his November 2010 re-election, the move made political headlines.

The Kentucky Republican's campaign says that they'll begin running the television spot starting Thursday. The campaign says they're spending six-figures to air the commercial for a week in the Louisville and Lexington markets, which cover most of Kentucky.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to respond to the new ad.

"We strongly disagree with the tweet that Mitch McConnell is referencing in his new ad, but let's be honest: Mitch McConnell is not a victim. In fact, he is the reason for Washington's dysfunction," said DSCC Communications Director Matt Canter.

McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, is bidding next year for a sixth term in office. Chao served as labor secretary during both terms of George W. Bush's presidency.


Filed under: Ads • Kentucky • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The group apologized. Move on. But, don't let me stop you from overplaying the indignation card.

    March 13, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Puddin

    If I was married to Mitch McConnell, I wouldn't go around bragging about it. In my opinion, he is the most immature person in Congress. "Now, let's not do anything to help him (Obama) win a second term." Never mind those US citizens who are suffering. Disgusting!

    March 13, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Lie. It wasn't a far left "special interests." First, it was ONE group of idiots. Second, they have no "special interest." They're just some errant "activist group." They clearly chose this buzz-wording to generate maximal faux outrage and allow themselves to pluralize it ("oh, it may have been one group, but they're speaking for many special interests").

    Seeing as how these idiots have already been universally criticized for their nonsense by everyone under the sun, it's somewhat disingenuous to 3 weeks later play the "I'm being persecuted" card. There's no widespread, pervasive behavior like that being directed at Beaker or his wife. Makes it very tempting to claim a "false flag" on this one. And all this is setting aside that McConnell and his cronies were attacking a private citizen in advertisements despite her not even running for the office, so there's more than a little hypocrisy going on here.

    March 13, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Bill

    How quaint. Seems these GOP'ers can not take the same crap they dish out. This is mild compared to the slurs, hatred and vitriol hurled at the president over the last four years. Get over it Mitch and Elaine – you are going to lose the elction anyway.

    March 13, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    They should do what they do with the rest of the mummy s ,bury them under a monuments to failure !!!!

    March 13, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Malory Archer

    Really burns when someone turns the tables and uses your own tactics against you doesn't it, beaker? What a hypocritical jerk!

    March 13, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Kentucky Progress apologized to the senator, his wife, and the group's supporters for the tweet.

    "Those tweets did not reflect our values, and we are committed to making sure nothing like that happens again,"
    -------------------------------------------------
    It was wrong.
    They apologized.
    No one should stoop to that with anyone.
    Too bad that RWNJs do not acknowledge any wrongdoing when they are up at bat.

    March 13, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. SafeJourney

    Cant wait to cast my vote against McConnell

    March 13, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Larry L

    The moronic right-wing birthers still call the President a "Muslim from Kenya". The Tea Party widely and openly used racist signs and slogans in their rallies. The President was called a "liar" from a Republican on the floor of the Congress. Michelle Obama was booed (twice) at NASCAR events where she was promoting a program to help families of Wounded Warriors. McConnell, the only Senator in history to filibuster his own initiative, is searching for a "swift boat" issue to dishonestly exploit. This isn't it.

    March 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. Joe

    OMG....someone actually married the Turtle?

    March 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. DENNA

    Wow. Mitch's wife isn't white. Didn't see that coming. He dislike of minorities and the poor is pretty apparent by the political party he belongs to and his utter contempt of President Obama.

    March 13, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Tom

    Perhaps when Mitch stops lying to the American people about the POTUS his wife won't have to fight his battles for him.

    March 13, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Dan5404

    Judd was right to disown the reference. Just as Republicans ridiculed Michelle Obama and Obama' children, there should be no place in politics for using family negativity in ads. I don't think most people in either party would disagree.

    March 13, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Yanni

    Mitt also try to milk Hilary Rosen's comment about his wife didn't work that much move on and continue with you quest making Obama a one term president.

    March 13, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. rs

    yeah, gosh it isn't like Republicans ever accused the President of being a Kenyan-Communist-Socialist-Ultra-Leftist-Marxist-Un-American foreigner, right?
    Youjust have to love the party that slings hate and bigotry suddenly getting all mushy and sensitive when the mud hits them.

    March 13, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    Get over it lady. they apologized and took it down....not like birthers and the rest of the GOP ilk that still use buzz words and innuendo against Obama and his family...but you just keep on pushing that conspiracy of yours....marble mouth is gonna have a tough run this time around.

    March 13, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    Dan5404

    Judd was right to disown the reference. Just as Republicans ridiculed Michelle Obama and Obama' children, there should be no place in politics for using family negativity in ads. I don't think most people in either party would disagree.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, now if only SOMEONE on the right would apologize for the vitriol spewed at the First Lady and her children over the last five years you might have a point.

    March 13, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. z.anderson

    the hate left group from k.y are all here theu have just posted right above me.
    Its ok to hate, no mention of any retribution here, its part of thier culture, every one knows, hope the minorities will wake up soon.

    March 13, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    The tweet doesn't attack Ms. Chao's ethnicity; she's not denying she was born in China, right?

    She was Labor Secretary from 2001-2009, under GW Bush. During that time, jobs were outsourced (many to China) at a huge rate. Also during her tenure, the Labor Department gave Congress inaccurate and unreliable numbers that understated the expense of contracting out its employees' work to private firms (source: Government Accountability Office report, November 24, 2008.)

    A report by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform alleged that Chao and other White House officials campaigned for Republican candidates at taxpayer expense. The report describes this as a violation of the Hatch Act of 1939, which restricts the use of public funds for partisan gain (no action was taken by any entity with responsibility for enforcing the Hatch Act).

    The only issue here is Chao and McConnell don't want anyone noticing that trying to tear down our nation's economy apparently runs in the family at the McConnell house ...

    March 13, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    Not that much of a push back, simply a comment on the stupidity of the Dem socialists, attacking someone for their ethnicity...........and then pretending to be for all races!

    March 13, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    "And all this is setting aside that McConnell and his cronies were attacking a private citizen in advertisements despite her not even running for the office, so there's more than a little hypocrisy going on here."

    Hypocrisy and transference (accusing others of your own bad behavior) is all the GOP has. And it plays very well with their base of low-information, "persecuted" voters.

    March 13, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You just have to love the party that slings hate and bigotry suddenly getting all mushy and sensitive when the mud hits them."

    It's a long and winding road for GOPers, isn't it? Every once in a while they confuse themselves with their right turn only lanes and find themselves having to grapple with their own stupidity.

    I'm more interested in what Mrs. McConnell thinks Mitch has done for America lately, besides getting President Obama elected for his second term. That alone ought to be worth a few Kentuckian votes ... against Mitch.

    March 13, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "there should be no place in politics for using family negativity in ads. "

    To be fair, this si slightly different. Mrs. Beaker was Secretary of Labor under Dubya from 2001 to 2009 and she did help enact, enforce and implement laws and policies that sent our jobs to China. Moreover, she has extensive connections to China and businesses partly owned by China. Moreover, McConnell has consistently been one of the most vocal advocates for the trade policies that wind up sending our jobs over there. All of this is true and preveable by rationally relating objective facts and discussing them. This is why that group messed up, because they made it about Mrs. Beaker's race instead of the facts. The only thing that comes of that is to hand Beaker a weapon of mass distraction AND to hand him a "victim card" to play whenever someone attempts to discuss the facts rationally without any connection to race.

    March 13, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    ThinkAgain ... wrote:

    She was Labor Secretary from 2001-2009, under GW Bush. During that time, jobs were outsourced (many to China) at a huge rate. Also during her tenure, the Labor Department gave Congress inaccurate and unreliable numbers that understated the expense of contracting out its employees' work to private firms (source: Government Accountability Office report, November 24, 2008.)
    ---------------
    Would you stop baffling them with facts. The right wing prefers to be dazzled.

    March 13, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. The REAL Truth...

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I'm loving all the "backlash" from the right over this dumb episode. Perhaps now they can see how utterly juvenile and intellectually challenged are those who still believe that the POTUS is not what has already been proven he is. Qualified to be elected POTUS. TWICE !

    March 13, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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