West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship on Tuesday said he saw nothing wrong with his use of a racial slur to describe the father-in-law of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“This idea that calling somebody a ‘Chinaperson,’ I mean, I’m an American person. I don’t see this insinuation by the press that there’s something racist about saying a ‘Chinaperson,’” Blankenship said during a primary debate hosted by Fox News. “Some people are Korean persons, and some of them are African persons. That’s not any slander there.”
Blankenship, a former coal CEO who served a year in prison for involvement in the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion, attacked McConnell’s ties to China last week by targeting the family of McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and there’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China,” Blankenship said on a radio show.
During Tuesday night’s debate, Blankenship repeated his claim that McConnell had “conflicts of interest with China.” The candidate has made attacking the Senate majority leader a centerpiece of his GOP Senate primary campaign.
Blankenship called McConnell “Cocaine Mitch” in a campaign ad earlier this week, alluding to a 2014 drug bust on a shipping vessel owned by the company founded by Chao’s father.
When debate moderator Bret Baier asked how Blankenship would work with McConnell if elected, given his penchant for “slinging insults,” he insisted it would not be a problem.
“I’m not going to D.C. to get along,” Blankenship said.
Blankenship is in a close race with other top GOP contenders to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in November. Other Republicans in the May 8 primary include state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.