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Image of former Washington Gov. Gary Locke in Trump ad prompts charges of racism

UPDATED: Fri., April 10, 2020

This photo of former Vice President Joe Biden greeting Gary Locke, former  Washington governor and former U.S. ambassador to China, is part of a montage in ad for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that suggests Biden has been too soft on the Chinese. (Donald Trump For President commercial via YouTube)
This photo of former Vice President Joe Biden greeting Gary Locke, former Washington governor and former U.S. ambassador to China, is part of a montage in ad for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that suggests Biden has been too soft on the Chinese. (Donald Trump For President commercial via YouTube)

An unlikely Washington Democrat shows up in the latest campaign ad for President Donald Trump, prompting criticism of racism from supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden.

A photo of Biden greeting Gary Locke, former Washington governor and former U.S. ambassador to China, is part of a montage in the ad which suggests Biden has been too soft on the Chinese. Biden is approaching Locke, who is standing at a podium and flanked by the U.S and Peoples Republic of China flags.

The other photos in the montage are of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials of the Chinese government. The photo of Biden and Locke appears for about a second and there’s nothing that notes Locke was the U.S. ambassador at the time it was taken.

A spokesman for the Biden campaign called the ad “pretty repulsive,” according to USA Today, while a Trump campaign spokesman said the photo fixes a point in time when Biden visited China as vice president.

In an email statement, Locke accused Trump of “fanning hatred” and said that needs to stop.

“Hate crimes and discrimination against the Asian American community are on the rise. And the Trump team is making it worse,” Locke wrote. “Asian Americans are Americans. Period. We defend our country in wars, build businesses and create jobs, serve in all levels of our government, and are treating patients on the front lines of this crisis as we speak.

“There is one priority that matters in America right now: stopping this virus and saving lives. So I have no tolerance for the same old politics of distraction and division. We need leaders who understand we can only get through this crisis together— as Americans of every creed, color, and background.”

The ad is being criticized by Asian Americans for seeming to suggest Locke is a Chinese government official. Among them is former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who described Locke on Twitter this morning as “American as the day is long” and contended the campaign was trying to rewrite history and shift attention from Trump’s poor response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Locke, who was born in Seattle, was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor. He was elected in 1996 and served two terms. President Barack Obama appointed him first as Secretary of Commerce and later as U.S. ambassador to China. He was the first Chinese-American to serve in that position.

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