A senior advisor to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Chinese dictator Mao Zedong was one of her “favorite political philosophers” during a speech to graduating high schoolers in 2009.
Anita Dunn, who was temporarily granted effective control of Biden’s campaign in February and now serves as a senior advisor, said Mao and Mother Teresa were “the two people that I turn to most” when she needs to encourage others to break from the mold and blaze their own trail in life.
“In 1947, when Mao Zedong was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over … the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army, they had the air force, they had everything on their side,” Dunn told the audience. “And people said how could you win? How could you do this?”
“And Mao Zedong said, ‘You fight your war and I’ll fight mine,'” Dunn said. “Think about that for a second. You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don’t have to follow other people’s choices and paths. You fight your own war, you lay out your own path.”
Dunn was serving as acting White House Communications Director under former President Barack Obama when she was recorded making the comments about Mao. Dunn announced her resignation from her post in November 2019, less than a month after former Fox News host Glenn Beck first reported her comments.
Mao’s Great Leap Forward policy led to the deaths of an estimated 45 million Chinese people from 1958 to 1962, earning him the dubious distinction of being one of the biggest mass murderers in recorded human history.
Dunn said her reference to Mao in conjunction with Mother Teresa was intended to be ironic after her comments first surfaced in 2009.
“The Mao quote is one I picked up from the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater from something I read in the late 1980s, so I hope I don’t get my progressive friends mad at me,” Dunn told CNN in 2009.
“The use of the phrase ‘favorite political philosophers’ was intended as irony, but clearly the effort fell flat — at least with a certain Fox commentator whose sense of irony may be missing,” she added in reference to Beck. (RELATED: FLASHBACK 2011: Biden Op-Ed Says ‘China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise’)
Dunn has served as an advisor to Biden since he launched his 2020 presidential campaign. In February, when Biden’s campaign was in the doldrums, the former vice president temporarily granted Dunn final decision-making authority over his campaign, two senior Biden officials told The New York Times.
“She will be working closely with us on campaign strategy and overall coordination on budget and personnel as we build a bigger campaign for the next phase,” read a campaign email announcing Dunn’s expanded role obtained by The Times.
Dunn returned to her role as a senior advisor to Biden in March after the former vice president named Jen O’Malley Dillon as his campaign manager, according to The Washington Post.
The Biden campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
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