After President Donald Trump repeatedly uses the term “kung-flu” to describe COVID-19 in past few days, public backlash has grown over the use of racist language. The White House, meanwhile, is defending Trump’s language.

After Trump twice called coronavirus “kung-flu” while speaking at his Tulsa rally and during his speech in Arizona, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway proceeded to defend Trump’s words, when reporters pressed on her for a comment. Conway said it was Trump’s way to describe the origin of the virus.

“My reaction is that the president has made very clear that he wants everybody to understand, and I think many Americans do understand, that the virus originated in China,” Conway said Wednesday.

In March, Conway said that the term was “highly offensive” when an Asian-American CBS reporter Weijia Jiang tweeted that “a White House official referred to coronavirus as the ‘kung flu’ to my face.”

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“I don’t know how these conversations go, and that’s highly offensive so you should tell us who it is, I’d like to know who it is,” Conway said, before talking about her husband George Conway, who is of Filipino descent. “I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals, I’m married to an Asian… my kids are partly — I’m married to an Asian-American, my kids are 25% Filipino.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also defended Trump’s word choice similarly to Conway saying it was to describe “the origin of the virus.”

“What the President does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It’s a fair thing to point out,” McEnany said.

McEnany also dismissed racism concerns after reporters said Asian Americans were offended by the use of the term.

“The president has said very clearly: It’s important that we totally protect our Asian community in the U.S. and all around the world. They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape or form,” she said.

The first time Trump called coronavirus “kung-flu” was when he spoke at his MAGA rally in Tulsa, brushing off proper name of the virus.

“By the way, it’s a disease, without question, has more names than any other in history. I can name, Kung Flu, I can name, 19 different versions of names. Many call it a virus, which it is, many call it a flu, what difference, I think we have 19 or 20 versions of the name,” Trump said amid applause and ovations from his supporters.

On Tuesday, Trump repeated his comment, while speaking to students from the conservative group Turning Point Action. Trump repeated his Tulsa comments, questioning sceintific terminology of the virus, instead listing terms he used before, such as “kung-flu,” “China virus” and “Wuhan virus” as the crowed cheered for him.

“I said, ‘What’s the 19?’” Trump said. “COVID-19, some people can’t explain what the 19, give me, COVID-19, I said, ‘That’s an odd name.’”


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