Cantwell staffer under fire for tweet

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by JIM FORMAN / KING5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 28 at 5:24 PM

SEATTLE - A member of Senator Maria Cantwell’s campaign staff is answering tough questions tonight after posting a photo of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna with what some are calling an insensitive question.

Kelly Steele, a democratic operative says he tweets often about many races, and the photo he created is pure satire. The McKenna campaign says it is a partisan attack against McKenna.

In an email to KING 5 News Steele writes, "My tweet was a satirical reference to a previous racist statement made by Republican Rob McKenna's own staffer. The language about speaking English and the hashtag #Asians emanated exclusively from McKenna's own team, and were initially forgiven by McKenna himself until media pressure caused a quiet resignation days later."
 
The original tweet in question was posted before the 22 year old policy aide ever signed on with the McKenna campaign. Still, it was a lightning rod in the campaign, and the aide ultimately could not survive the high voltage politics which surrounded it.
 
Fast forward to last week when McKenna and Democratic opponent Jay Inslee both were left standing at their respective podiums, at times uncomfortably, waiting for a translator at an Asian Pacific American summit. 
 
Steele says it was fair game. “This is simply a case of McKenna supporters upset about revisiting an embarrassing incident from their past," he told KING 5 News.
 
With just weeks to go before the election, McKenna’s team is crying foul. In a statement a spokesperson said, “It is apparent that no tactic is off limits for Mr. Steele and his partisan allies in their attacks against Rob McKenna.  

UPDATE, Sept. 29: Cantwell's reelection campaign responded to KING 5's request for comment. "Kelly has apologized for his personal post about the Governor's race. There is no place for humor in the discussion of previous insensitive comments," said Rose Kapolczynski, the campaign's senior adviser.

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