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California Dem candidate appears to mock Rep. Steel’s accent: ‘You kind of need an interpreter’

FIRST ON FOX: California Republican Rep. Michelle Steel’s campaign condemned Democratic opponent Jay Chen over “racist” comments he made that appeared to mock the Korean-American congresswoman’s accent. 

Chen, a Democrat running against Steel, made the comments while speaking at an April 7 meet and greet in the Congregation B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Fountain Valley, California.

“Yeah, so she just had another town hall the other day. And, umm, it’s tough. Like, we’ve transcribed it,” Chen said. 


“You kind of need an interpreter to figure out exactly what she’s saying,” the Democrat added, drawing laughter from the crowd. “The more she speaks, the better for us.”

A Steel campaign spokesperson condemned Chen’s comments as “racist” and called on the Democrat to apologize.

“America is a country built on immigrants,” the spokesperson said. “Michelle Steel is a first-generation Korean American who speaks English as her third language, and these despicable, racist comments from Jay Chen have absolutely no place in our community. Chen owes everyone an explanation, particularly following recent reports he continues backing the Chinese Communist Party’s Confucius Institutes in our educational system.”

The spokesperson also pointed to a Washington Free Beacon report detailing that, in 2010, Chen led the charge as a member of the Hacienda La Puente school board to bring the Confucius Classroom program to the school district.

According to the report, the Confucius Classroom program is bankrolled and operated by the Chinese Ministry of Education and has ties to the collegiate Confucius Institute program.

The State Department designated the Confucius Institute program in 2020 as a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda arm designed to advance “Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign.”

Additionally, CCP officials have recognized the Confucius Institute programs as “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda setup.”

Chen’s jab at Steel’s accent echoed a previous statement he made during an Indivisible Zoom call in late March, when he called Steel, one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress, “incoherent” and claimed that “all she does is rely on Republican talking points fed by her husband.” 

The California Democrat has also been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, NewDem Action Fund and the California Democratic Party.

Chen also received the endorsements of several prominent Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and progressive Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.

Steel told “Fox & Friends” in November 2020 after defeating former Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., that her accent is part of her story and that she “stands for the American Dream.” English is Steel’s third language behind Korean and Japanese. 

Chen’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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