Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) responded Saturday to a racist online campaign, bolstered in part by the president’s eldest son, claiming that the presidential candidate is not Black and questioned her US citizenship.
Less than an hour after the California senator challenged Joe Biden’s record on race during part two of the first Democratic debate Thursday, hundreds of “suspect” Twitter accounts began to question her blackness.
Trump Jr. joined the racist campaign by retweeting a post questioning Harris’ ability to address issues of importance to black Americans because she is the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant.
He shared a tweet that read: “Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting.”
Trump Jr. shared the tweet with the comment, “Is this true? Wow.” He has since deleted the tweet.
The Washington Post noted that the Twitter account retweeted by Trump Jr. is suspected of being a bot account targeting black voters.
Donald Trump Jr. publicly questioned whether Kamala Harris is black and then deleted it. The media is missing. You can fight back right now against Trump Jr. by making a donation directly to Kamala and helping us have her back too. Retweet & chip in here: https://t.co/12f5cv5bDr pic.twitter.com/iIT1yVL6MA
— Party Majority (@PartyMajority) June 28, 2019
Shortly after his tweet, a slew of Twitter accounts began pushing the same racist message.
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. #DemDebate2 pic.twitter.com/DTeB2qWJnm
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) June 28, 2019
A spokesman for President Donald Trump’s son told the New York Times that it was a misunderstanding.
“Don’s tweet was simply him asking if it was true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it’s not something he had ever heard before,” spokesman Andy Surabian told the Times. “And once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet, he quickly deleted it.”
Lily Adams, the campaign communications director for Harris, dismissed the attack, explaining that people, including President Trump, used similar rhetoric to question Obama’s birthplace. Obama was born in Hawaii.
“This is the same type of racist attack his father used to attack Barack Obama,” Adams told CNN. “It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.”
Biden defended Harris on Saturday, saying in a tweet that “racism has no place in America.”
“The same forces of hatred rooted in ‘birtherism’ that questioned @BarackObama’s American citizenship, even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris,” Biden said. “It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it.”
“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted. “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.”
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg said: “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.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee accused the Trump family of “peddling birtherism,” an apparent reference to the president’s attacks against Obama.
“The coordinated smear campaign on Senator @KamalaHarris is racist and vile, Inslee tweeted. “The Trump family is peddling birtherism again and it’s incumbent on all of us to speak out against it.”
Sen. Cory Booker tweeted:
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) June 29, 2019