This week’s opening round of 2020 Democratic primary debates opened up a number of disagreements and conflicts among various candidates. It also elevated the profile of Kamala Harris, who is widely judged to have been the winner of the debate. This prompted Donald Trump Jr to cross the line when attacking Harris – but her opponents stepped in and promptly stood up for her.
After a far-right conspiracy theorist tweeted the racist claim that Kamala Harris isn’t a “black American” because her ancestry is from Jamaica and not Africa, Donald Trump Junior promptly retweeted it. This was a not so subtle attempt at reviving the “birtherism” that Donald Trump Senior spent so many years hurling at Barack Obama. Junior ended up deleting the tweet after widespread criticism, and his spokesman made the incredible claim that Junior was somehow actually referring to Kamala being half-Indian. That’s when Kamala’s opponents got involved.
Cory Booker rather emphatically tweeted that “Kamala Harris doesn’t have shit to prove” when it comes to her ethnicity. Amy Klobuchar added that “These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator Kamala Harris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.” Pete Buttigieg tweeted that “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.” Elizabeth Warren tweeted this: “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.”
If Donald Trump Jr and the far-right thought they could drive a wedge between the 2020 Democratic candidates by giving them an opportunity to attack Kamala Harris over a phony scandal, it turns out the opposite happened. As so often ends up being the case, Team Trump has overplayed its hand, and it’s blowing back in their face.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report