Republican Senator David Perdue mocked Kamala Harris, his Senate colleague and the Democratic vice presidential nominee , by repeatedly mispronouncing her name at a Georgia rally for President Donald Trump.
Mr. Perdue on Friday was wrapping up his remarks at an event in Macon when he referred to Harris as “KAH’-mah-lah? Kah-MAH’-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever.” The audience laughed.
A spokesperson for Mr. Perdue said the first-term senator didn’t mean anything by it. Ms. Harris’ political opponents have repeatedly mispronounced her name since she became the first Black woman on a major party ticket, a trend many Democrats say smacks of racism.
Her first name is pronounced KAH’-mah-lah — or, as she explains in her biography, “‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark.”
Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are among the top Republicans who have repeatedly mispronounced it. A few Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, have said it incorrectly, too.
Ms. Harris’ spokesperson, Sabrina Singh, responded to Mr. Perdue’s remark in a tweet: Well that is incredibly racist. Vote him out.” In a second tweet, she wrote, “He has been her Senate colleague for over 3 years. 3. Years. THREE. Do better.”
Casey Black, a spokesperson for Mr. Perdue’s campaign, tweeted that the senator simply mispronounced Sen. Harris’ name. He didn’t mean anything by it, Ms. Black wrote. He was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda that she and her endorsed candidate Jon Ossoff are pushing.
Jon Ossoff, who is running against Mr. Perdue in November, tweeted that his opponent mocked Sen. Harris’ name, adding, “We are so much better than this.” Mr. Ossoff, who staged an unsuccessful bid for Congress in a 2017 special election, also tweeted a fundraising message over video of Mr. Perdue’s comments and said in another tweet, “Senator Perdue never would have done this to a male colleague. Or a white colleague. And everyone knows it.”
Georgia’s Democratic Party demanded that Mr. Perdue apologise.
“Senator Perdue’s intentionally disrespectful mispronunciation of Senator Harris’s name is a bigoted and racist tactic straight from President Trump’s handbook,” Nikema Williams, chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, said in a statement. “He owes Georgians an apology for his offensive display.”