Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris says she believes Donald Trump is a racist, plain and simple.
When asked by The Root’s Terrell Starr if she believes Trump to be racist, the California senator bluntly replied: “I do. Yes. Yes.”
Politico reports: Harris’ comments were more stark than some of her fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls.
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Sen. Cory Booker was far more cautious earlier this month when asked the same question, saying, “I don’t know the heart of anybody. I leave that to the Lord.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, meanwhile, has called Trump’s immigration policies “racist,” and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has said Trump has “contributed to more racial strife.”
In the interview published Tuesday, Harris cited Trump’s past comments defending both sides during the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and his rhetoric on U.S. immigration.
During the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Trump refused to unilaterally condemn the white-nationalist protesters, saying there were “very fine people” on both sides. Harris said she suffered “an incredible amount of pain and concern” following Trump’s statements in response to the rally, adding Trump’s failure to disavow and condemn racist supporters demonstrated a failure in his leadership.
“You can be elected, but if you actually are a leader then you don’t condone and support and counsel hate,” Harris said. “You call bigotry what it is. You call racism what it is.”
Harris also condemned the variety of racist messages and imagery Trump has used on his campaign linking immigrants to violent crime and calling some undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers. She also alluded to a Washington Post report early last year that Trump referred to countries of immigrants receiving special government protection as “shithole countries.”
“When you talk about his statement on [Charlottesville], when you talk about him calling African countries s-hole countries, when you talk about him referring to immigrants as rapists and murderers, I don’t think you can reach any other conclusion,” Harris said.
Hours after their interview was published, Starr posted a response from the Republican National Committee on Twitter that used low unemployment among minorities and Trump’s recent criminal justice reform to rebut Harris’ comments. Trump has frequently used low unemployment among minorities as evidence he is not racist.
“From historic lows in African American and Hispanic unemployment to signing historic criminal justice reform into law, President Trump is fighting and delivering results for all Americans. Kamala Harris’s disgusting attacks on President Trump are a desperate attempt to get attention for her 2020 campaign,” RNC spokesman Steve Guest said in the statement.