Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has appeared on BBC News where he refused to comment on whether he believed that Donald Trump's recent comments about four congresswomen were racist.
The president has been widely condemned for telling the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar to 'go back to their own countries,' with acting prime minister Theresa May deeming the comments 'unacceptable'.
Both Hunt and Johnson echoed May's sentiments during the head-to-head debate on Monday but much like May, they have all stopped short on branding Trump's words as 'racist'.
Hunt has now doubled down on that stance. The current foreign secretary was asked by BBC News host Naga Munchetty if the president's comments were racist, to which he responded:
I've said I'm not going to answer that question and you have found one of the few questions in this campaign that I'm not going to answer and I'll tell you why.
I'm our diplomat in chief. I'm responsible for the transatlantic relationship. I happen to believe that it is the relationship that has done more to keep the world safe and secure than any other over the last 70 years.
I absolutely, profoundly disagree with those comments. I have three half-Chinese children. I've said that my kids, who were born on the NHS and have British passports, if anyone told them to 'go back to China' I would be utterly appalled and find it totally offensive.
I totally condemn any politician that said those comments but I'm not going to use the 'r-word' because I do have to be responsible for that relationship between the UK and the USA and I think it would be damaging for that if I used it.
Munchetty replied by admitting that she was surprised to hear Hunt refer to racism as the 'r-word' and pointing out that he can be "diplomatic and call out racism at the same time".
Well, I think I have called out those comments for what they are, which is totally and utterly unacceptable and offensive but I'm not going to use the word that you are asking me to use for the reason I've just explained.
Conservative leadership contender Jeremy Hunt says he won't say if Donald Trump's tweet was racist because he is th… https://t.co/XbE63J2Ilw— BBC Politics (@BBC Politics) 1563437474
Hunt's failure to condemn Trump's attack on the congresswomen as racism, combined with the unusual use of the phrase the 'r-word', have seen the Tory leadership hopeful admonished on social media.
JESUS CHRIST WHY CAN'T POLITICIANS CALL ANYONE RACIST??? Say it in our parliament - 'withdraw your comment please… https://t.co/TxQrCXCkK9— Hugh Woozencroft (@Hugh Woozencroft) 1563440084
Bathong, he's calling it "the R word". God #safe us 😭😭😭😭 https://t.co/EEpwvePJTH— T (@T) 1563444742
why the FUCK has it become taboo to call out racists for being racist. fuck you and your pathetic, complicit behavi… https://t.co/ObwswOFr6z— laura (@laura) 1563444476
“I’ve got three half-Chinese children and the main lesson I want them to learn is that it’s worse to be called a ra… https://t.co/friyekBWXL— Steven Sheil (@Steven Sheil) 1563441031
"Daddy a kid said something racist to me at school today" "Now sweetheart you know we don't use the r word, it cou… https://t.co/zgMpPbrR9n— Universal Basic Crypto (@Universal Basic Crypto) 1563441167
The 'R' word. Wow. So saying racist things doesn't damage political relationships but calling it out does. De… https://t.co/8G5gpQcyIu— Dr Mirna Guha (@Dr Mirna Guha) 1563443286
@BBCPolitics my god. The ‘R’ word!?????— Rhammel (@Rhammel) 1563437816
@BBCPolitics Not standing up against racism is official government policy now is it ?@Jeremy_Hunt— Whingeing Welshman 🐉 (@Whingeing Welshman 🐉) 1563438961
Siri show me cowardice in human form https://t.co/POLdEYEbeO— Li Na X (@Li Na X) 1563440291
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