Andrew Yang criticized President Trump late Wednesday over his recent usage of the contentious phrase “kung flu” to refer to the novel coronavirus first discovered in Wuhan, China.
Mr. Yang, whose failed campaign for the Democratic nomination recently made him the party’s first major Asian American presidential candidate, condemned Mr. Trump in light of him referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” during a campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then again Tuesday during a Students for Trump event in Phoenix, Arizona.
Speaking on CNN, Mr. Yang said that “using a term like this is just Trump’s attention to distract attention from the fact that the administration is completely botched and mishandled the coronavirus pandemic,” which has infected more than 2 million Americans and killed over 122,00 since the first U.S. cases were reported roughly five months earlier.
“This is his, in my opinion, very ineffective attempt to turn the conversation in a different direction,” said Mr. Yang, 45, who became a CNN contributor after ending his campaign.
“I mean, this is like the desperate thrashing around of a losing candidate,” Mr. Yang said later on CNN. “I think this is a losing path for him. He’s just degrading himself and the office of the president further by grasping at straws that aren’t actually keeping him afloat. I wish he could figure out a path that did not involve racist comments that end up throwing millions of Americans under a rhetorical bus, but here it is, and hopefully we can get him out of there and call an end to this presidency in 4.5 short months.”
Although the president only recently used the phrase “kung flu” publicly, reports emerged in March that an unnamed White House official used the term to refer to the coronavirus.
More recently, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Mr. Trump on Monday for having made the remark during a reelection campaign rally held the night before.
“It’s not a discussion about Asian Americans, who the president values and prizes as citizens of this great country. It is an indictment of China for letting this virus get here,” Ms. McEnany said. “The president does not believe it’s offensive to note that this virus came from China.”
Mr. Yang, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, is among the most prominent Asian Americans to condemn Mr. Trump this week for referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu.” His long-shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination outlasted those of several established politicians prior to coming to an end in February. He has since endorsed the party’s presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
The first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, were reported to the World Health Organization on New Year’s Eve. More than 9.4 million positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide in the months that have followed, including over 2.3 million in the U.S., according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., more than 122,000 people have died after contracting COVID-19 and over 656,000 have recovered, according to the data.