UPDATED 4:30 p.m. | The campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky slammed tweets from a liberal group criticizing his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
On Feb. 14, Progress Kentucky tweeted: "This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress--she's his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!"
The tweet linked to a fringe website alleging that Chao wanted to undermine American workers.
Another tweet said: "China Premier grateful to McConnell father-in-law/@KYGOP contributor-4 his role in developing China industry." That linked to a press release from China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
The news was first reported by Louisville NPR affiliate WFPL.
McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton criticized the Progress Kentucky tweets in a Tuesday statement.
"Secretary Chao and her family are shining examples of the American Dream: salt-of-the-earth folks who escaped oppression, came here with nothing, joined our great melting pot, worked exceptionally hard to build a thriving business, and then dedicated so much of their lives to giving back," he said. "It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race-baiting for political gain. Progress Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves."
Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly denied charges of race-baiting and said Benton's statement is "an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Mitch McConnell has engaged in the selling of the American middle class overseas for decades.”
McConnell is up for re-election in 2014, and Democrats are recruiting actress Ashley Judd to challenge him.
For her part, Judd tweeted Tuesday: "Whatever the intention, whatever the venue, whomever the person, attacks or comments on anyone's ethnicity are wrong & patently unacceptable."
CQ Roll Call rates the Kentucky Senate race as Likely Republican.