Don Blankenship, the ex-convict mine owner running for Senate in West Virginia, is intensifying his war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ahead of the Republican primary next Tuesday.
Blankenship, who has fallen behind his competitors Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in recent polling, released a bizarre ad on Monday in which he referred to McConnell as "cocaine Mitch."
“One of my goals as U.S. senator will be to ditch Cocaine Mitch,” Blankenship says in the ad which appears to no longer be featured on his Facebook page.
On Tuesday, Blankenship’s campaign sought to explain the term by blaming McConnell for the alleged misdeeds of a company owned by the father of McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“Mitch McConnell and his family have extensive ties to China,” the campaign said in a statement. “His father-in-law who founded and owns a large Chinese shipping company has given Mitch and his wife millions of dollars over the years. The company was implicated recently in smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Europe, hidden aboard a company ship carrying foreign coal was $7 million dollars of cocaine and that is why we’ve deemed him ‘Cocaine Mitch.’”
The campaign pointed to a 2014 article from The Nation which reported that drugs were found on the Ping May, a vessel owned by McConnell's wife's family.
“A new book by Peter Schweizer examines how career politician Mitch McConnell used his elected influence and his wife’s family’s policies to get rich while regular Americans lost a trade war,” the Blankenship press release continued. “A trade war that has cost millions their jobs and therefore created idleness and despair, which as we know leads to illegal drug use including cocaine. Cocaine overdose deaths in the United States are rising rapidly as a result.”
This is far from the first time Blankenship has lobbed wild attacks at McConnell and his wife. Last week on a West Virginia radio show that McConnell has a conflict of interest because Chao's father is a “wealthy Chinaperson” and “and there’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, in you will, in China.”
In response, McConnell said: ‘My father-in-law is an American, who lives in New York. Works in New York. And I don’t have any comment about ridiculous observations like that.”