Democrats are calling on Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) to apologize after he mocked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisFeinstein’s hug of Lindsey Graham sparks outrage on the left The Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump, Biden brace for dueling town halls Greta Thunberg mocks Barrett for not having ‘views on climate change’ MORE’s (D-Calif.) name, accusing the Georgia lawmaker of sounding a racist dog whistle.
While speaking in Macon, Ga., of the “insidious” plans Democrats have in store should they take power in Washington, Perdue rattled off several lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate GOP’s campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas Intercept Chief: Democrats’ attention to Affordable Care Act in Barrett hearings part of larger election strategy Is Trump a better choice for Jewish voters than Biden? MORE (N.Y.), Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFeds investigating if alleged Hunter Biden emails connected to foreign intelligence operation: report Six takeaways from Trump and Biden’s dueling town halls Biden draws sharp contrast with Trump in low-key town hall MORE and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter’s handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech’s liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democratic senators question Amazon over reported interference of workers’ rights to organize Americans’ dwindling belief in American exceptionalism MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter’s handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech’s liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon On The Money: McConnell shoots down .8 trillion coronavirus deal, breaking with Trump | Pelosi cites progress on testing provisions | Jobless claims spike to 898K Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump’s Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE (D-Mass.), before moving to Harris, calling her “Kah-mah-la or Kah-ma-la or Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.”
Here is the video of Senator David Perdue mangling the pronunciation of Kamala Harris’s name. pic.twitter.com/aVJU451bDi
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) October 16, 2020
Democrats seized on the remark, pointing out that Perdue was mocking the name of a Black and Asian woman and the first woman of color to be on a major party’s national ticket. Some also noted that Perdue and Harris have served in the Senate for three years, suggesting people who work together for that long often know each other’s names.
“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,” tweeted Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is running against Perdue in an increasingly competitive Senate race.
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. pic.twitter.com/9AvoQK4RdN
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) October 16, 2020
Ossoff added in a more explicit tweet that Perdue “never would have done this to a male colleague. Or a white colleague.”
Senator Perdue never would have done this to a male colleague.
Or a white colleague.
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) October 17, 2020
The Georgia Democratic Party said Perdue was using an “intentionally disrespectful and a bigoted racist tactic” and warned “Every Georgia Republican has to answer for this.”
This is intentionally disrespectful and a bigoted racist tactic straight from the Trump playbook. Every Georgia Republican has to answer for this. https://t.co/guUmn1htTi
— Georgia Democrats (@GeorgiaDemocrat) October 16, 2020
“Senator David Perdue has served in the Senate alongside Vice Presidential nominee and Senator Kamala Harris since 2017. He knows her name and he knows how to say it. His disgusting performance today is nothing more than a desperate dog whistle from a losing politician who was already caught running anti-Semitic ads against Jon Ossoff. Perdue has shown he lacks the dignity and respect that Georgians deserve from their U.S. senator, and he must immediately apologize,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Helen Kalla added in a statement.
Friday’s controversy marked the second time Perdue had to answer to Democrats over what they said was an insensitive remark. In July, his campaign released an ad saying, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” in which Ossoff’s nose appeared to have been enlarged. Ossoff is Jewish.
The Perdue campaign denied that the senator had intentionally mocked Harris’s name, saying instead that he misspoke.
“Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it. He was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda that she and her endorsed candidate Jon Ossoff are pushing, which includes the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all, raising taxes, and holding up COVID-19 relief for the people of Georgia,” a Perdue spokesperson told The Hill.
Perdue, a first-term senator, faces a tight race against Ossoff, an investigative journalist, with a poll released Wednesday showing the incumbent trailing by 6 percentage points. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as a “toss up.”