Donald Trump used the term “Kung Flu” again on Tuesday when making reference to the coronavirus, reportedly drawing applause and cheers from the crowd inside a Phoenix megachurch.
Trump had stoked controversy for using the term during a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the weekend, despite some top White House officials having previously referred to that phrase as “very offensive.” Many critics have decried the phrase as racist as well, noting that the association with China has led to some racially-charged attacks against Asian-Americans during the coronavirus crisis.
As MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin tweeted on Tuesday, Trump’s use of the phrase at his rally on Tuesday was met with cheers.
As The Independent reported, White House aide Kellyanne Conway had previously condemned the use of the phrase earlier this year. In speaking with a reporter, Conway was asked about rumors that some White House staff were referring to the coronavirus by the term “Kung Flu,” apparently drawing anger from Trump’s former campaign manager and current top aide.
At the time, Conway pressed the reporter to name exactly who had been using the phrase, not appearing to believe that anyone in the White House would have used the term.
“The exchange is perhaps a reminder that – so far as his staff is concerned – the rules do not apply to Mr. Trump,” The Independent’s report noted of the president’s use of the phrase on Saturday and Tuesday.
Trump had used the phrase for the first time publicly at his rally in Tulsa on Saturday, noting that there were many different nicknames for the virus that has left more than 120,000 Americans dead.
“I can name Kung Flu, I can name 19 different versions of names,” Trump said.
“Many call it a virus, which it is, many call it a flu, what difference? I think we have 19 or 20 versions of the name.”
The reference was met with controversy, with top White House and Trump campaign officials being pressed afterward to defend the president’s use of a term decried widely seen as racist.
As reporters noted, Trump’s use of the phrase was very well received at Tuesday’s rally which was held at Dream City Church in Phoenix. Reports noted that the phrase was met with “raucous applause.”
Trump uses the racist term "Kung Flu" again. The audience at the Trump event cheers. The event is in a megachurch.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 23, 2020
In March, @KellyannePolls said that "kung flu" was "highly offensive" and mentioned her husband and kids, who have Asian heritage, because obviously it's especially offensive to Asian-Americans.
President Trump just used the term for a third time. To raucous applause.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 23, 2020
Trump has long blamed China for its role in the spread of the coronavirus, a view shared even by some of his critics who believe that the country’s communist government covered up early evidence of the outbreak and did not properly share information with the world that could have blunted its early spread.