“Ka-MA-la, KA-ma-la, Kamala-mala-mala. I don’t know, whatever,” Perdue, who’s in a tight race for his Senate seat, said in Macon, Georgia, according to several reporters at the rally.
The campaign for Perdue’s opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, tweeted out a video of the moment.
As the California senator wrote in her 2019 memoir, her name is pronounced ”‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark. It means ‘lotus flower,’ which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.”
Perdue, who’s been Harris’s colleague in the Senate for years, might benefit from listening to these children explain how to pronounce her name, which they did in a video for her 2016 Senate run.
Harris, the first Black woman and the first Asian American woman named to a major party’s ticket, is the daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father. Jokes about her name ― and even the careless mispronunciation of it ― are a lazy way to paint her as a political outsider because of her race, her allies say.
Trump has similarly mocked her name.
“You know who’s further left than Crazy Bernie? Kamala. Kamala. Kamala,” he said at a rally last month, mispronouncing her name and stretching out each syllable.
A spokesperson for Perdue told HuffPost that he wasn’t making fun of her name. “Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it,” the spokesperson said.
Democrats didn’t buy it.
“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.”
Trump and conservative Republicans, as they did with Barack Obama throughout his presidency, pushed racist birther conspiracy theories about Harris just days after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named her as his running mate. Legal scholars said there is no basis to their claims.
We want to know what you’re hearing on the ground from the candidates. If you get any interesting ― or suspicious! ― campaign mailers, robocalls or hear anything else you think we should know about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.