Donald Trump sought to escape blame for the poor showing of his party in the 2022 midterms on Sunday and escalated his racist attacks against the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, his former secretary of Transporation, Elaine Chao.
The latest attack came in the form of another “truth” from Mr Trump’s Truth Social platform, and followed a dismal performance by the Republican Party in their bid to retake both the House and Senate. After Tuesday’s midterm elections Republicans stand to not only not take the Senate but may in fact be pushed further into the minority; meanwhile, a razor-thin House majority looks possible but not definite as a few races remain uncalled in western states.
Mr Trump has become his party’s scapegoat as a wave of editorials and opinion articles in conservative media blame the ex-president for valuing fealty above all other characteristics and leading the GOP down a path where its national presence was unpalatable for many Americans.
The obvious racist reference to Mr McConnell’s wife is only the latest in a line of increasingly ugly remarks that the ex-president has made about his former secretary of Transportation despite her now-total step back from the public sphere; Ms Chao has almost completely avoiding making public remarks of her own and has neither responded to the racist questions about her heritage from her former boss nor returned fire.
The bizarre, one-sided feud appears completely motivated by Mr McConnell’s continued status as the highest-ranking obstacle or opponent to Donald Trump’s dominance of the GOP, and in particular its members in the Senate. The minority leader whipped votes against efforts to contest the 2020 election results in Mr Trump’s favor in January of 2021, and has called the attack on the US Capitol on January 6 a “violent insurrection”. Though he also whipped members against the ex-president’s impeachment in both cases, Mr Trump continues to seek Mr McConnell’s ouster as GOP leader in the upper chamber.
Mr McConnell also continues to largely ignore the personal and racist attacks Mr Trump aims at his wife and in his public responses to questions on the matter merely asserts that he continues to have the support he needs to remain leader of his caucus.
He was pressed on the issue by CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this year, and did not use the word “racist” to describe the ex-presidents remarks; instead, he pivoted to defending legal immigrants like his wife for pursuing the “American Dream”.
“As I said, legal immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream,” said the minority leader in July. “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.”
Most GOP senators have refused or dodged attempts to get them to state their views on the ex-president’s racist remarks, though Senator Rick Scott of Florida addressed the issue in October during an interview on CNN.
“It’s never, ever OK to be a racist,” he said in October. “I think you always have to be careful, you know, if you’re in the public eye…You want to make sure you’re inclusive.”