When pressed by a reporter whether it would be racist for someone to tell his immigrant wife, Elaine Chao, to “go back” to where she came from, as President Donald Trump did to four congresswomen of color, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) refused to give a direct answer.

McConnell was asked about this hypothetical situation while responding to comments about the president’s tweets that the four progressive congresswomen, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

CNN’s Manu Raju asked McConnell, “You’re married to an immigrant who’s a naturalized U.S. citizen. If someone was to tell her she should go back to her country because of her criticism of federal policy, wouldn’t you consider that a racist attack?” Chao, McConnell’s wife, is the Secretary of the Transportation Department. She was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States at age eight.

McConnell did not answer the question, instead opting to celebrate his wife’s American Dream story, remarking how she came to the United States at “age 8, legally, not speaking a word of English.”


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When Raju pressed his question again, McConnell dodged again. “As I said, legal immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream,” the senator replied. “The new people who come here have a lot of ambition, a lot of energy, tend to do very well and invigorate our country. My wife’s a good example of that.”

McConnell’s comments come as an attempt to defend his boss over his recent remarks. Trump wrote this weekend that ‘”Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen,’ should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” His suggestion caused outrage over its xenophobic nature and its implications that people of color are not loyal to the United States. His statement confused many as well, since three of the four representatives he was referring to were born in the United States, and all four of them are American citizens.

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