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Sen. Perdue appears to mock Kamala Harris' name at Trump rally

NBC News logo NBC News 10/17/2020 Phil Helsel
David Perdue in a suit standing in front of a crowd © Provided by NBC News

Sen. David Perdue, at a Georgia campaign rally for President Donald Trump, on Friday appeared to intentionally mock the first name of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

At the Macon rally, Perdue, R-Ga., pronounced Harris' name as: "Kamala, or Kamala, Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know," with various emphasis on parts of the name, video showed.

Perdue made the comments while naming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and others when attacking what he called "radical socialism."

Perdue was elected to the Senate in 2014 and serves in Congress with Harris, who was elected in 2016.

Perdue's Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Jon Ossoff tweeted that Perdue "mocked" Harris' name, and added: "We are so much better than this."

John Burke, Perdue's campaign communications director, claimed in a statement that he "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 relief for the people of Georgia," Burke said.


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Harris is the first Black and South Asian-American woman to be on the ticket as vice president in U.S. history.

Perdue spoke in the warm-up before Trump took the stage for a rally speech that lasted about an hour and 45 minutes.

Nikema Williams, Democratic Party of Georgia chairwoman, criticized Perdue, calling the mispronunciation intentional.

"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."

Perdue in July faced criticism for a digital campaign ad featuring a manipulated picture of Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose.

The ad was taken down. A spokeswoman for Perdue said in a statement at the time that it was it an “unintentional error” by an outside vendor, without naming the vendor, The Associated Press reported.

Ossoff appeared to refer to that in his tweet condemning Perdue's statements on Harris' name, referring to the him as "GOP Sen. David Perdue of anti-Semitic attack ad infamy."

When the ad was taken down the Perdue spokeswoman said that "Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Senator Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate."

On Saturday, Ossoff tweeted that his campaign had raised over $1 million "since my opponent disgraced himself with bigoted mockery of Kamala’s name at yesterday’s Trump rally."

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