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Georgia senator mocks Harris's name before Trump rally: 'Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know'

Democrats are calling on Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) to apologize after he mocked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg The painstaking, state-by-state fight to protect abortion access MORE’s (D-Calif.) name, accusing the Georgia lawmaker of sounding a racist dog whistle.

While speaking in Macon, Ga., of the “insidious” plans Democrats have in store should they take power in Washington, Perdue rattled off several lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (N.Y.), Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Trump campaign eyes election night party at his sold-out DC hotel Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAll fracked up: Biden's Keystone State breakdown What do Google, banks and chicken salad have in common? Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE (D-Mass.), before moving to Harris, calling her “Kah-mah-la or Kah-ma-la or Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.”

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Democrats seized on the remark, pointing out that Perdue was mocking the name of a Black and Asian woman and the first woman of color to be on a major party’s national ticket. Some also noted that Perdue and Harris have served in the Senate for three years, suggesting people who work together for that long often know each other’s names.

“My opponent, GOP Sen. David Perdue of anti-Semitic attack ad infamy, just mocked Sen. Harris' name as ‘Kamala-mala-mala-whatever’ at a Trump rally. We are so much better than this,” tweeted Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is running against Perdue in an increasingly competitive Senate race.

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Ossoff added in a more explicit tweet that Perdue “never would have done this to a male colleague. Or a white colleague.”

The Georgia Democratic Party said Perdue was using an “intentionally disrespectful and a bigoted racist tactic” and warned “Every Georgia Republican has to answer for this.”

“Senator David Perdue has served in the Senate alongside Vice Presidential nominee and Senator Kamala Harris since 2017. He knows her name and he knows how to say it. His disgusting performance today is nothing more than a desperate dog whistle from a losing politician who was already caught running anti-Semitic ads against Jon Ossoff. Perdue has shown he lacks the dignity and respect that Georgians deserve from their U.S. senator, and he must immediately apologize,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Helen Kalla added in a statement.

Friday’s controversy marked the second time Perdue had to answer to Democrats over what they said was an insensitive remark. In July, his campaign released an ad saying, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” in which Ossoff’s nose appeared to have been enlarged. Ossoff is Jewish.

The Perdue campaign denied that the senator had intentionally mocked Harris’s name, saying instead that he misspoke.

“Senator Perdue 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-19 relief for the people of Georgia,” a Perdue spokesperson told The Hill.

Perdue, a first-term senator, faces a tight race against Ossoff, an investigative journalist, with a poll released Wednesday showing the incumbent trailing by 6 percentage points. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as a “toss up.”