On Friday, during an outdoor town hall in Londonderry, New Hampshire, a man asked 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) about what she plans to do in order "to diminish the mentally retarded actions" of President Trump.
As the audience cheered and applauded, Harris laughed and replied: "Well said. Well said. I plan to win this election, I'll tell you that."
Following a video of the exchange landing on social media, Harris was hit with intense criticism. Self-described "disabled healthcare advocate" Kendally Brown posted the video to Twitter, and wrote:
During a rally, a voter referred to Trump's actions as "mentally retarded", prompting @KamalaHarris to laugh and say, "well said, well said." I hate amplifying content I know the right will seize on and twist for their own hypocritical gain, but this hurts my heart. #CripTheVote
Using "retarded" as a slur and an insult is never, EVER "well said", @KamalaHarris, no matter who it's against and no matter the larger point being made. It's ALWAYS a betrayal of the disability community. We need—and expect—better from you. #CripTheVote
Brown went on to blast "right-wing" reporters who would retweet the video, and targeted The Daily Wire specifically:
ATTENTION RIGHTWING REPORTERS RETWEETING THIS. Don't bother retweeting me to attack @KamalaHarris. I'll just block you so my tweet doesn't show up on your timeline. I refuse to be used as a token disabled pawn by a bunch of hypocrites supporting an ableist monster ... if you want to amplify the video without amplifying the Daily Wire reporter (since they are the wooooorst), here it is!
Some on Twitter echoed Brown's disappointment in Harris:
"My brother has down syndrome and has a heart of gold compared to Donald J Trump and is a better man. Kamala Harris you lost my vote," tweeted @scamihorn.
@BaileyPittipat wrote: "It's a term that doesn't fit the differing scale of intelligence found in humans. Or the disabilities that underly. It is a slur. And it's meant to bully. An apology is owed. Properly said, Trump is a malignant narcissist of limited cognitive skills."
A smaller contingent of people defended Harris:
"I understand your point & think she will make this right & apologize. But as much as this terminology shouldn't be used, there was clearly a language barrier. She may have been reinforcing the IDEA the man was conveying — that Trump POLICIES are dumb (for lack of a better word)," tweeted @sbex530
@ifawomandidit wrote: "I'm a Warren supporter but damn it people make mistakes. She either didn't hear it or she was trying to appease a voter move on. We should all move on from this."
On Saturday, Harris was asked about the remark by CBS News' Caitlin Huey-Burns.
It's an incredibly offensive term, and as someone who has a long-standing relationship of advocacy for our disability community – in fact, I have a whole policy proposal on it that I have been working on for quite some time that we rolled out weeks ago – it’s offensive, and you would think that in the year 2019, people would have a much better understanding of how hurtful a term like that can be, but also the history behind it, which is a history of really ignoring the needs and the realities and the capacity of our disability community.
Huey-Burns asked: "You didn't correct him though. Did you hear him?"
Harris responded: "I heard him talk about the other stuff, and then that came later, and it was not something that I really heard or processed or, you know, in any way condone, that's for sure."
Harris made a similar comment to NBC News.
Also on Saturday, Harris made the following comment on Twitter:
Harris' plan regarding the disabled was released on August 29.
Sen. Kamala Harris is currently struggling in the Democratic primary race. After rocketing to the top-tier following her debate confrontation with former Vice President Joe Biden in June, Harris has tumbled back down to 7.2% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Harris is currently in a distant fourth place behind Biden at 29.7%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 18%, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at 17.5%.