Convicted criminal and GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship insisted that his blatantly racist slur against Asians was definitely not racist.

Don Blankenship, the convicted criminal and Republican Senate candidate in West Virginia, used a repugnant slur to describe Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s father-in-law.

During a recent radio interview, Blakenship called shipping magnate James Chao, father of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, a “wealthy Chinaperson.” And he made it quite clear during a Fox News primary debate on Tuesday that he doesn’t think his remark was racist at all.

“This idea that calling someone a ‘Chinaperson’ — I mean, I’m an American-person — I don’t see this insinuation by the press that there is something racist about saying a ‘Chinaperson.’ Some people are Korean-persons, some people are African-persons — it’s not any slander there,” he said.

Blankenship is indeed invoking a 19th-century racial epithet for Chinese people. The term “Chinaman” has a long and ugly history in stereotypical depictions of Chinese people as liars and thieves. Blankenship making his slur gender neutral does not make it any less inflammatory.

For weeks, Blankenship has been locked in a feud with McConnell, who has made clear he wants someone else to win the primary. Blakenship called McConnell a “swamp captain” and compared his party leadership to Russian election interference.

He has also continued to go after McConnell’s connections to the Chao family. His “Cocaine Mitch” comment in a recent Facebook attack ad was a reference to allegations in 2014 that cocaine was found on a Chao-operated vessel.

And Blankenship’s unrepentant escalation into racial slurs against McConnell’s family, while shocking, is not out of the blue.

At one recent debate, Blankenship boasted that he is “Trumpier than Trump.” And Trump has perpetuated the use of epithets in the political discourse — from nicknaming a U.S. senator “Pocahontas” to calling African and Caribbean nations “shithole countries.”

Thus it’s not surprising that a candidate who plays up his Trump credentials would hurl racial insults with the same casual ease. And Blakenship cannot make this controversy disappear by simply insisting that it doesn’t exist.