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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 HarrisHere's why Joe Biden polls well, but Kamala Harris does not Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border 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 SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (N.Y.), Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected BuzzFeed News finds Biden's private Venmo account Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 MORE and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Warren says Republican Party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' 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 OssoffJon OssoffDC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill MORE, 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.”