PROVIDENCE — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, has only one known Rhode Island political tie: GOP congressional candidate Allan Fung.
They served together on an Asian Pacific American Advisory Council created by the Republican National Committee in March 2014 “to strengthen ties with minority communities."
But it was not until days later that Fung chose to comment, in response to a Journal inquiry, about former President Donald Trump's mockery of Chao — who was born in Taiwan and served as Trump's secretary of transportation.
Trump called described Chao as McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow" on his social media platform Friday.
Fung's response: "I would not have used that language, do not condone its use, and condemn it." (Asked if he condemned Trump for using that language, he repeated: "I would not have used that language, do not condone its use, and condemn it."
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The Trump post began with an attack on McConnell for supporting "Democrat sponsored bills," including most recently a stopgap funding bill to avert a federal government shutdown.
It wound around to the "Coco Chow" dig at Chao.
"He’s not even trying to hide the racism," Farah Griffin, who served as Trump’s communications director for about nine months in 2020, posted on Twitter in the wake of Trump's attack on McConnell and Chao.
“This isn’t some crazy person on the internet, this is the GOP front-runner for president if the party doesn’t wake up & demand better,” Griffin said alongside a screenshot of Trump’s post.
In 1961, at just 8 years old, Chao arrived in the United States on a freight ship from Taiwan. Her family was fleeing the communist revolution on mainland China. At the time, she spoke no English.
Speaking to Bryant University graduates in May 2018, she talked about the difficulties of "adjusting to a new country, a new culture and a new language.
"Despite the challenges, my parents ... believed that life in this country would be better ... that with education, hard work and determination we could accomplish anything, and they were right,'' said Chao, who graduated from Mount Holyoke College and then Harvard Business School.
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A two-time GOP candidate for governor, Fung is currently running for Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District seat against Democrat Seth Magaziner, the state treasurer. The longtime incumbent, Democrat James Langevin, is not seeking reelection.
Fung has acknowledged voting for Trump and has never voiced regrets or acknowledged any possible connection between the former president and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
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"They want to use scare tactics like that [Trump hat] photo," Fung told reporters in a six-minute question-and-answer session at his congressional campaign launch in April. He was referring to a photo of him wearing a knit cap with Trump's name emblazoned across it that then-Gov. Gina Raimondo made famous in their last match-up.
"I am standing strong asking people to support me, and I will have people in this district who are Trump supporters and disenchanted Biden supporters," he said.
On Monday, the Magaziner campaign sent along this comment on Trump's mocking post:
“This is yet another remind[er] that we must turn the page on Trumpism once and for all. Allan Fung has pledged to put Trump loyalists in control of Congress, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that does not happen.”
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Allan Fung condemns Trump's attacks on McConnell's wife Elaine Chao