Many 2020 Democratic candidates stood up for fellow rival Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) this weekend when false claims arose online suggesting that she was lying about her black heritage.
After Harris pressed former Vice President Joe Biden during the Thursday debate on his record on race, including his opposition to busing and his nostalgic comments about working with segregationists, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted (then deleted) a circulating false claim that Harris was from “Jamaican Slave Owners” and not truly African-American.
The attack against Harris, who was born in the U.S. to an Indian mother and Jamaican father, echoes the birther conspiracy theory President Donald Trump sparked about former President Barack Obama, a point that a Harris campaign spokeswoman made on Saturday.
“This is the same type of racist attack [Don Jr.’s] father used to attack Barack Obama,” Lily Adams, Harris’ campaign communications director, told CNN. “It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.”
On Sunday, Julián Castro slammed Don. Jr. as a “coward” for elevating the conspiracy theory and then deleting the post.
“So he could say, ‘Oh, that was just a mistake,'” Castro said during a “State of the Union” interview on CNN. “But he knows what he’s doing. He’s giving voice to these racist utterances about Senator Harris.”
Julián Castro blasts Don Jr. for "giving voice to these racist utterances" about Kamala Harris: "He knows what he's doing." pic.twitter.com/LsqLV1yFtH
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 30, 2019
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was one the first of Harris’ rivals to speak up on Saturday afternoon against the “racist and ugly” attacks.
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.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 29, 2019
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), the other black 2020 candidate who qualified for the first round of debates, kept it simple: “@KamalaHarris doesn’t have shit to prove.”
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) June 29, 2019
“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,” Biden posted. “It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it.”
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.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 29, 2019
“Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted. “Shocker.”
Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too. Shocker. https://t.co/cy0N6fUseX
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 29, 2019
“These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said. “We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.”
These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 29, 2019
“@KamalaHarris is an American. Period,” Beto O’Rourke tweeted. “And all of us must call out attempts to question her identity for what they are: racist.”
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. https://t.co/g3n7lmoU2h
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) June 29, 2019
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Washington governor Jay Inslee (D), New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) also defended Harris.
This is racism. It was wrong before, and it’s wrong now. We won’t allow it again. https://t.co/MCkHFdronw
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) June 29, 2019
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.
— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) June 29, 2019
The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist & un-American, period.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 29, 2019
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.
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) June 29, 2019