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Georgia senator makes racist joke by mispronouncing Kamala Harris’ name

Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia made racist jokes about Sen. Harris’s name. 

Kamala Harris Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia took aim at Kamala Harris by blatantly mispronouncing her name. Perdue addressed the crowd before President Donald Trump’s arrival at his campaign rally on Friday (Oct. 16) in Macon, Georgia.

During his speech, Perdue warned the crowd of a potential liberal takeover of the government at the hands of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Harris. “The most insidious thing that Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden are trying to perpetuate, and Bernie [Sanders] and Elizabeth [Warren] and Ka-MAL-a, Ka-MAL-a or Kamala, Kamala, Ka-mala, -mala, -mala, I don’t know, whatever,” he said, mangling her name, as the crowd started cheering him on.

Reporters at the rally began sharing the clip online and pointing out that Perdue has served on the Senate Budget Committee with Harris for the past three years. The campaign for Perdue’s opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, also shared the video of the moment and Ossoff criticized Perdue for the remark on Twitter. “My opponent, GOP Sen. David Perdue of anti-Semitic attack ad infamy, just mocked Sen. Harris’ name as ‘Kamala-mala-mala-whatever’ at a Trump rally. We are so much better than this,” he tweeted.

Harris’ press secretary Sabrina Singh also took to Twitter to share her thoughts. “Well that is incredibly racist,” she said. “Vote him out and vote for @ossoff.”

The spokeswoman for Perdue’s campaign Casey Black defended his remarks in a statement to CNN. “Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it,” she said. “He was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda that she and her endorsed candidate Jon Ossoff are pushing.”

Nikema Williams, chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, released a statement following the rally .“Senator Perdue’s intentionally disrespectful mispronunciation of Senator Harris’s name is a bigoted and racist tactic straight from President Trump’s handbook,” she said. “He owes Georgians an apology for his offensive display.”

Republicans have frequently mispronounced the California senator’s name, including President Trump, who did so twice during a news conference when she was announced as Biden’s running mate in August.

The vice presidential hopeful addressed the pronunciation of her name in her 2019 memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. She shared that her name is pronounced ”‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark. It means “lotus flower,” which holds major significance in the Indian culture. The flower grows underwater, while its flower rises above the surface with its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.

She also released a video for her 2016 Senate run to help people learn the real pronunciation of her name with the help of some children.

This isn’t the first time Harris faces mockery from the Trump. During the vice presidential debate, the campaign teased Harris by setting aside a debate ticket for Tupac Shakur after she mistakenly referred to him as the best rapper alive during an interview.

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