Georgia Sen. David Perdue is facing setbacks for scornfully speaking out on behalf of Senator Kamala Harris at a Trump campaign rally on Friday, with many calling his remarks racist.
“Ka-MAL-a, Ka-MAL-a or Kamala, Kamala, Ka-mala, -mala, -mala, I do not know anything,” Perdue said as the crowd in Macon, Georgia, burst into cheers and laughter before introducing President Trump.
That moment from his speech instantly went viral and it was widely criticized on social media.
Perdue’s communications director, John Burke, tweeted that the senator “simply mispronounced”
But many expressed doubts that Perdue would mispronounce the name of a colleague who sits on the Senate Budget Committee with him and has served with the Republican lawmaker in the U.S. Senate for years.
The statement from Perdue’s office rejecting the incident also provoked more anger. Many coloreds shared their own stories of others ridiculing or mispronouncing their names.
On Saturday, many people used the hashtag #MyNameIs in response to Perdue.
Conservatives have previously also rejected the pronunciation of Harris’ name. In July, when a guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show told the host he was saying Harris’ name incorrectly, Carlson replied, “OK, so what?”
However, Perdue is facing setbacks amid a close re-election campaign against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who criticized him on Friday and later raised money from his opponent’s comments.
“This kind of disgusting, talked-about talk of race bait is what President Trump has released from sitting Republican members of the Senate,” Ossoff told MSNBC that evening.
This is not the first time the Republican senator has come under fire for racial issues. In July, his campaign ran an ad on Facebook featuring Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose.
“This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history,” Ossoff tweeted at the time.
Perdue’s campaign said it was an “unintentional mistake that distorted the picture.”
“Anyone who suggests that this was anything other than an unintentional mistake intentionally presents Senator Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firm against anti – Semitism and all forms of hatred,” his campaign said, adding that the ad had since been removed.