2020 Democrats defend Harris over conspiracy theories about race, citizenship

A slate of Democrats running for president defended fellow White House contender Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Klobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record MORE (D-Calif.) after right-wing personalities and bots amplified conspiracies about her.

Apparent online bots promoted theories on social media after Thursday’s primary debate falsely claiming that the California Democrat, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, is not black and is not a U.S. citizen.

“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly. We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.) tweeted. 

“The coordinated smear campaign on Senator @KamalaHarris is racist and vile. The Trump family is peddling birtherism again and it’s incumbent on all of us to speak out against it,” Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee says Trump coronavirus response akin to if FDR called Pearl Harbor 'a hoax' Green group proposes nearly T infrastructure and clean energy stimulus plan Washington state bishops respond to Trump's push to reopen churches: 'We will wait' MORE (D) said, referring to the conspiracy theory that former President Obama was not born in the U.S.

Former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Liberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record MORE, who had a contentious exchange with Harris during Thursday's debate, also likened the smears against Harris to the "birther" theories against Obama.

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"The same forces of hatred rooted in 'birtherism' that questioned @BarackObama's American citizenship, and even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris. It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America," he tweeted. 

“There's a long history of black Americans being told they don't belong—and millions are kept down and shut out to this day. @KamalaHarris is an American. Period. And all of us must call out attempts to question her identity for what they are: racist,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) tweeted.

“The attack on @KamalaHarris is racist and we can't allow it to go unchecked. We have a responsibility to call out this birtherism and the continued spread of misinformation,” Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanCongress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left Democrats rally behind monthly ,000 relief checks MORE (D-Ohio) said.

.@KamalaHarris doesn’t have shit to prove,” Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senators ask DeVos to adjust FAFSA form due to the coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-N.J.), one of only three black candidates in the presidential race, tweeted.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharLiberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record Klobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record Officer involved in George Floyd death charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter MORE (D-Minn.), who in the senate has sought to curb the influence of Russia on social media, said "We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this vile behavior."

South Bend Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE said Harris' presence in the race made for a better campaign.

"The presidential competitive field is stronger because Kamala Harris has been powerfully voicing her Black American experience. Her first-generation story embodies the American dream. It’s long past time to end these racist, birther-style attacks," he tweeted.

"This is racism. It was wrong before, and it’s wrong now. We won’t allow it again," Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted.  

The conspiracy theories were mainly promoted by fringe personalities popular in far-right circles. But one about Harris not being black was boosted by Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE Jr., who retweeted one such message before taking the post down. 

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“A lot of suspect accounts are pushing the 'Kamala Harris is not Black' narrative tonight. It’s everywhere and it has all the signs of being a coordinated/artificial operation,” social media researcher Caroline Orr tweeted after the debate. 

The Democratic primary race has gotten personal in the days leading up to this week’s debate, but all candidates have sought to prove themselves particularly attuned to race as they court an increasingly diverse base.