The Trump administration and its messaging team have tried a number of different methods to diffuse the fallout from the President’s Squad tweets. One of the many ideas is to promote Trump’s relationships with people from different ethnic groups.
One of the key figures in this strategy is Secretary of Transportation and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao. The White House continued to invoke her name when today, a staffer from Mike Pence’s office claimed Chao was a “better immigrant” than Ilhan Omar.
In an email written to Mother Jones, Pence’s Deputy Press Secretary, Darin Miller, wrote:
“Secretary Chao’s story is an example of what the President supports: She came legally to the U.S., worked hard and assimilated, and is dedicated to giving back and serving her country, and we can all support that. Contrast that with Rep. Omar, who seems content to criticize America at every turn, instead of trying to fix problems she sees.”
This is the second time Vice President Pence’s office has used Chao to say that Trump’s tweets weren’t racist. Earlier this week, Marc Short, another Pence aide, said, “So, when people write that the president has racist motives here, it’s just, look at the reality at who’s actually serving in Donald Trump’s Cabinet (referring to Chao).”
Here's Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, defending Trump's racist tweets this morning by claiming that he can't have had "racist motives" because Elaine Chao serves in his cabinet, and he's making the point that Ilhan Omar never says positive things about the U.S.. pic.twitter.com/B7WkNxjQPG
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 15, 2019
Short’s comments were nearly immediately criticized. Jo-Ann Yoo from the Asian American Federation said Short’s comments were just another example of racism from Trump’s cabinet. “To tokenize the one Asian woman in the President’s cabinet is further evidence of the racism perpetuated in the Trump White House,” said Yoo.
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Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.