President Trump used a previously condemned racial slur to attack one of his Democratic rivals for the White House in a Tuesday speech that had been advertised as focusing on energy and manufacturing.
While speaking to workers at a Shell petrochemical plant in Monaca, Pa., Trump mocked the use of wind as an energy source and ripped the progressive Green New Deal and the Democratic presidential candidates who support it.
“I don’t want to speak badly about it. I want to encourage them. That should be their platform, I don’t want to do it too early. I did it very early with Pocahontas. I should’ve probably waited. She’s staging a comeback on Sleepy Joe,” he said, referring derisively to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I don’t know who’s going to win,” he continued. “But we’ll have to hit Pocahontas very hard again if she does win. But she’s staging a little bit of a comeback. What a group. Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe. I don’t think they give a damn about western Pennsylvania.”
Trump on Elizabeth Warren: "We'll have to hit Pocahontas very hard again if she does win."
(This is not supposed to be a campaign speech.) pic.twitter.com/UBlejLKFhf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2019
Trump has repeatedly used “Pocahontas” to attack Warren, including during a ceremony meant to honor Navajo Code Talkers who aided America in World War II in 2017.
John Norwood, general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, told NBC News at the time that Trump’s use of the name to mock Warren “smacks of racism.”
“The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that’s insulting to all American Indians,” Norwood told the network, adding that Trump should “stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents.”
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told CNN that the aside was “uncalled for,” particularly in that setting.
“This was a day to honor them, and to insert something like that — the word ‘Pocahontas’ as a jab to a senator — you know, that belongs on the campaign trail,” Begaye said, according to Politico. “That doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored.”
The National Congress of American Indians, the largest organization of Native American tribes, called it “a slur” in a statement.
“We regret that the President’s use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today’s White House ceremony,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel, a Vietnam War combat veteran.