Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by JUUL Labs – House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump’s race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, ‘you can keep it’ | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday declined to say if it would be racist to tell his immigrant wife to go back to her native country in response to questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: ‘Good’ As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE‘s recent attacks on four progressive lawmakers.
McConnell was pressed about the hypothetical as he addressed the criticism Trump has received for telling a group of minority congresswomen to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places” they came from.
CNN’s Manu Raju asked McConnell during the press conference whether he’d consider it racist if someone told his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoPence aide: Trump’s ‘intent’ wasn’t racist Pence praises ‘generous’ US immigration system at July 4 naturalization ceremony 2020 candidate Tim Ryan questions Trump administration about planned July 4 event cost MORE, who was born in Taiwan, to go back to the country she was born in.
“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?” Raju asked.
McConnell responded by celebrating his wife’s story, noting that she came to the U.S. at “age 8, legally, not speaking a word of English.”
He added that Chao “has realized the American dream, and I think all of us think that this is a process of renewal that’s gone on in this country for a very long time, and it’s good for America and we ought to continue it.”
Chao was naturalized as a U.S. citizen at the age of 19.
Raju followed up by pressing his question.
“As I said, legal immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream,” McConnell 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.”
Trump on Sunday sparked an uproar by telling four freshman House Democrats to “go back” to where they came from before speaking out about how the U.S. should be governed. He also claimed that the progressive Democrats “came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.”
He did not identify the lawmakers in his tweet, but the comments were aimed at Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, is the only one of the four who was born in a foreign country.
Several Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called the remarks racist.
McConnell dismissed those accusations, saying Trump “is not a racist.”
“I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country but it’s coming from all different ideological points of view. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake,” he added.
His comments came as House Democrats prepare to vote on a formal resolution condemning Trump’s comments as racist.
Trump, meanwhile, has stood by his remarks about the progressive Democrats, stating that the lawmakers should leave the country if they are not “happy.”