McConnell's wife pushes back against slur in his first re-election ad
March 13th, 2013
10:02 AM ET
9 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."

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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

    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!
    As Labor Secretary she oversaw the outsourcing and exporting of more than 8 million manufacturing jobs. The only thing the group needs to apologize for is seeming to suggest that all of the lost jobs went to directly China, which they did not.

    March 13, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    @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!
    Coming from the side that has done nothing but attack the POTUS ethnicity that for the last four years, this is laughable. What about all the birthers?? Can we put that down to the stupidity of the Republicant lemmings, or do we chalk it up to plain ignorance?

    March 13, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Larry L

    @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!
    Enjoy your fake "outrage". Go get a photo of the Republican National Convention and take a look at the sea of fearful, self-righteous white faces. Look at the signs at Tea Party rallies. Think about the (you?) birthers. Mitch McConnell filibustered his own initiative and you're calling Democrats stupid? HE FILIBUSTERED HIS OWN INITIATIVE!

    March 13, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Malory Archer


    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.


    Look eveyrone – the spokesperson for the party that can dish it out but can't take it has weighed in without even reading the article!

    March 13, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. AnotherView

    The Dem taunts here are online with their self-justified Policy of lying to change facts.
    The pre-election fraud by CNN and NBC. The continuous re-phrasing of anything to blame someone other than Obama/Dems.
    The Dow rises and falls based on pure money printing authorized by the WH, the block of keystone to benefit BNSF rail (Buffet), Russian bombers encroaching US airspace on Jim 28, July 4, and Hours before the SOTU address, the anything but "transparency" with the press- yet no news, no debate, no coverage, and especially NO CRITICISM ALLOWED as that IS racist..
    While I'm not a Repub, I have not forgotten the absolute Hate spewed about Bush , his golf, his kids, and the hatred vented at the 100,000 plus march on SanFran. Where all those folks and their values now? It is you, the liars that cannot allow a person to debate or refer to same Dem actins that would have caused news every night . But not now, not when the press is being run by all the Obama-Dem people that were running the WH . So, we normal people just wait, for now.

    March 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Wake up People!

    What hypocrites. These are the same people that still refer to the POTUS as a Muslim, marxist, socialist but they get upset because someone says she is Chinese?? Where is the slam? Beaker and his beard need to go sit down and shut up.

    Exactly WHEN can President and Mrs. Obama expect their apology for all the nasty things said about their entire family including their children?

    March 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. rs


    The GOP, their racist TEA Party and the indelibly stupid Birthers have nothing to stand on here. A Secretary of Labor who oversaw the greatest export of American jobs to China however might be worth a footnote- you think? If she were a Democrat, you guys would have called for a lynching. Get over it.

    March 13, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Thomas

    Attacking her ethnicity ?
    “Guanxi” (the Chinese term for political connections), Ms. Chao’s father — and most likely herself — has been a family friend of the leaders of communist China for practically all of her life.”

    2001, President George W. Bush appointed her as labor secretary.

    During Chao's tenure, Labor Department gave Congress inaccurate and unreliable numbers that understated the expense of contracting out its employees' work to private firms, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued on 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.but no action was taken by any entity with responsibility for enforcing the Hatch Act.

    She returned to the Heritage Foundation after leaving the government in January 2009.

    March 13, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. kamarasune

    He's got this. Kentucky loves the man....

    March 13, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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