Republican lawmakers are accusing California Democratic congressional candidate Jay Chen of “mocking” his opponent Korean American Congresswoman Michelle Steel’s (R, CA-45) accent.
“Yeah, so she just had another town hall the other day,” Chen says in a 14-second video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. “And, umm, it’s tough. We’ve transcribed it; you need an interpreter to figure out exactly what she’s saying. The more she speaks, the better for us.”
Chen made the remarks during a meet-and-greet he hosted at the Congregation B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Fountain Valley, California, last week.
Steel shared her thoughts about the video on Twitter, writing, “I’ve dealt with racist attacks my whole life, but it won’t stop me from proudly sharing my voice. 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.” On Twitter, Republican National Committee spokesperson Nainoa Johsens called Chen’s comments “racist.”
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Steel received support from South Korean-born Rep. Young Kim (R, CA-39), who tweeted, “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.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-23) called on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to disavow Chen, saying, “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.” “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) need to immediately disavow and remove Jay Chen from their “Red to Blue” program in light of his racist attack on @MichelleSteelCA. #CA45”
In response to the accusations from McCarthy and Steel, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Mandy Mundy stated, “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.”
“Michelle Steel needs to explain to Orange County families why she says she wants to lower health care 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.”
Chen, whose parents are Taiwanese immigrants, is currently running against Steel to represent California’s 45th congressional district in Orange County. The district was redrawn in 2021, and Asian Americans make up the largest group of voters in the area.
Chen’s campaign has yet to respond to the video and accusations.