Perdue purposely flubs Kamala Harris’ name, drawing sharp criticism

‘Kamala-mala-mala,’ Georgia senator says at Trump rally in Macon

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

U.S. Sen. David Perdue intentionally flubbed the name of Joe Biden’s running-mate Kamala Harris at a rally Friday for President Donald Trump in Macon, drawing immediate criticism from his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and others who called it a “racist tactic.”

As Perdue warned that the Democratic presidential ticket of Biden and Harris would bring “radical socialism” to the country if elected, Perdue dramatically struggled with Harris' name, to the delight of the crowd.

“Kamala? Kamala? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever.”

Harris and Perdue have served together in the U.S. Senate since 2017, including as members of the Senate Budget Committee. His campaign spokesman John Burke said the Republican “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,” he said.

Ossoff swiftly criticized his Republican opponent on social media.

“We are so much better than this,” Ossoff tweeted, urging supporters to chip into his campaign. He later added: “We are so much better than this.”

And Nikema Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, said he owes voters an apology.

“Senator Perdue’s intentionally disrespectful mispronunciation of Senator Harris' name is a bigoted and racist tactic straight from President Trump’s handbook,” said Williams.

Long a staunch Trump loyalist, Perdue earlier told the crowd that the president had been sent by God.

“This guy is providential. He didn’t happen by accident,” Perdue said. “How in the world in our political system could Donald J. Trump come on the scene in 2016 do what he did? Tell me. God’s watching.”

The Trump campaign scheduled the rally in Macon as a series of recent polls show Trump and former vice president Joe Biden neck-and-neck in Georgia. Trump, who won the state by 5 percentage points in 2016, has little clear path to victory if he loses Georgia in November.

Along with Perdue, state GOP leaders including Gov. Brian Kemp, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rep. Doug Collins, former Georgia governor and current Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and 14th district GOP nominee Marjorie Taylor Greene also attended the rally for Trump.