McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, pushes back on alleged ethnic attacks

Rachel Rose Hartman

Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao publicly addresses a progressive group's attacks on her Asian-American ethnicity in a new ad released on Wednesday by the re-election campaign for her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"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. ... Mitch loves Kentucky. We love Kentucky. The meanest personal attacks can never change that,” Chao says of herself and the Republican senator.

Liberal group Progress Kentucky in February suggested on Twitter that Chao, who was born in Taiwan, helped send American jobs to China during her service as labor secretary under President George W. Bush. Progress Kentucky defended the messages amid denouncements from McConnell's campaign.

Wednesday's commercial, which is running on TV and radio, is the first direct response the public has heard from Chao or McConnell.

But Democrats on Wednesday accused McConnell of using the ad to "play the victim."

From Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

Mitch McConnell is known as the meanest, most negative campaigner in all of Washington, and Kentuckians and all Americans are sick and tired of his nasty, partisan brand of politics. No wonder he is the least popular incumbent senator in the entire country. 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.

Wednesday's ad is the first 2014 commercial released by McConnell's campaign. He has no announced major opponents, but faces a prospective challenge from actress Ashley Judd, a Democrat.