Republican Senator David Purdue has repeatedly mispronounced the name of his Senate counterpart and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, speaking at President Trump’s rally in Georgia on Friday night. The senator quickly drew criticism for his comment, which Harris’s spokesman called “incredibly racist.”
When Purdue finished his speech at the event, he called Harris “KAH’-mah-lah? Kah-MAH’-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever it was.”
Spokesman Purdue defended his remarks by writing on Twitter that he “just mispronounced Senator Harris̵7;s name” and that “he didn’t mean anything by that.”
“He argued against the radical socialist program she and her backed candidate, John Ossoff, were promoting,” the spokesman added.
Harris’s spokesman responded to the tweet, calling Purdue’s statement “racist.”
“Well, it’s unbelievably racist. Vote for him,” she wrote, adding, “He’s been her colleague in the Senate for over three years. 3. Years. THREE. Do your best.”
Harris is the first black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to run for vice president from the main party. Harris’s political opponents, including President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, have repeatedly mispronounced her name.
Her first name is pronounced “KAH’-mah-lah” – or, as she explains in her biography, “coma-la” as a punctuation mark.
Purdue’s opponent, John Ossoff, tweeted that his opponent was “mocking Senator Harris,” adding, “We’re much better than that.”
The Democratic Party of Georgia called on Perda to apologize.
“The deliberate misrepresentation of Senator Harris is a fanatical and racist tactic directly from President Trump’s handbook,” said Nikema Williams, leader of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “He is guilty of apologizing to Georgians for his offensive demonstration.”