Top Republicans hit California Democratic House candidate for 'racist attacks'

Top Republicans hit California Democratic House candidate for ‘racist attacks’

Top Republicans are taking aim at California Democratic House candidate Jay Chen for making “racist” comments about GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s accent, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling on the Democratic campaign arm to withdraw support.

Chen, whose parents were Taiwanese immigrants, came under fire after reports and video emerged of the congressional hopeful saying people “kind of need an interpreter” to understand Steel, a Korean American, while trying to transcribe her recent town hall. Chen’s comments came during a synagogue meet and greet at Congregation B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Fountain Valley, California, earlier this month.

Chen is challenging Steel in the newly redrawn 45th Congressional District, covering part of coastal Orange County. House Republicans need to net five seats in the 435-chamber to win the majority, and the 45th Congressional District is considered a key one they’re trying to retain.

“Yeah, so she just had another town hall the other day. And, umm, it’s tough. Like, we’ve transcribed it,” Chen said at the event, according to a Fox News report. “You kind of need an interpreter to figure out exactly what she’s saying. The more she speaks, the better for us.”


Republicans blasted his remarks, with McCarthy arguing Chen should be removed from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program.

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee need to immediately disavow and remove Jay Chen from their ‘Red to Blue’ program in light of his racist attack on @MichelleSteelCA. #CA45,” McCarthy tweeted Thursday. “Disgraceful remarks like those uttered by Jay Chen have no place in our nation’s political discourse & @DCCC must act unless they approve of these racist remarks. Rep. Steel is an inspiration to first generation Americans & I look forward to serving w/ her for many yrs to come.”

Steel argued that Chen’s remarks are “offensive to all immigrants” and a form of racism against Asians and Pacific Islanders.

“I’ve dealt with racist attacks my whole life, but it won’t stop me from proudly sharing my voice,” she said. “My opponent’s attacks are offensive to all immigrants. You would have thought the child of immigrants would have known that before spreading #AAPI racism.”

Rep. Young Kim of California, who, like Steel, was born in South Korea, also took aim at Chen.

“You don’t need an interpreter to know that ⁦@jfchen⁩’s comments are hateful, racist & wrong. Policy debates are vital to keep our democracy strong, but personal attacks on one’s background are never okay. I’m proud to know ⁦@MichelleSteelCA⁩,” she tweeted.

The DCCC dismissed the allegations of racism, noting that Chen has been vocal in fighting against anti-Asian hate.

“This is just more gaslighting and deception from the man who has handed over the keys to his caucus to white supremacists and advocates of racist replacement theory,” DCCC spokeswoman Mandy Mundy said in a statement.


“Michelle Steel needs to explain to Orange County families why she says she wants to lower healthcare costs yet voted against capping insulin at $35 and why she says she wants to create American jobs but voted against a job-creating bill that will help us out-compete China,” she added. “Steel says one thing at home and does another in Washington, which is why Orange County voters can’t trust her.”

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Written by Juliegrace Brufke

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