2020 Democrats Defend Harris Against Racist Smears Questioning Her Heritage

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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.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was one the first of Harris’ rivals to speak up on Saturday afternoon against the “racist and ugly” attacks.

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.”

“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.”

“Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted. “Shocker.”

“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.”

“@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.”

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.

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