Mispronouncing the name of Sen. Kamala Harris intentionally has emerged as a very popular way for allies of President Donald Trump to attack the Democratic ticket. But Sen. David Perdue took it even further on Friday when he so derisively ridiculed the name of Harris that it immediately resulted in allegations of racism. Before the president’s campaign rally in Macon, Ga., Perdue was warming up the audience when he began referring to the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party: “Ka-ma-la, Ka-ma-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.” The crowd laughed.

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Many were quick to point out that Perdue serves with Harris on the Senate Budget Committee, so it seems highly unlikely that he will not be able to pronounce the name of his colleague first. “The sen. in addition to vice-presidential candidate and senator Kamala Harris, David Perdue has served in the Senate since 2017. He knows her name and he knows how to pronounce it,’ spokeswoman Helen Kalla of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee wrote in a statement. “The” disgusting show “was” nothing more than a desperate dog whistle from a defeated politician, “Kalla went on to say.

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Perdue is caught up against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in a close reelection contest, who was swift to condemn the senator for his ridicule. “What President Trump has unleashed from sitting Republican representatives of the Senate is this kind of disgusting, race-baiting trash talk,” Ossoff said on MSNBC. With a video of his rival insulting Harris, Ossoff sent out multiple tweets. Senator Perdue would never have done such a thing to a male colleague. Or a white colleague,’ wrote Ossoff.

“Sabrina Singh, Harris’ press secretary, called the statement “incredibly racist.” She wasn’t alone. “The deliberately insensitive mispronunciation of the name of Senator Harris by Senator Perdue is a bigoted and discriminatory tactic straight from the handbook of President Trump,” Nikema Williams, Georgia’s Democratic Party chairwoman, said. “He owes an apology to the Georgians for his offensive showing.”

Perdue spokesman John Burke attempted to downplay the entire thing, saying that they were all reading too much into the words of the senator. “Senator Perdue actually mispronounced the name of Senator Harris, and by that he meant nothing,” he said.

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