Even four days out from the election, President Donald Trump is doubling down on racist attacks against his opponents. At a Friday rally in Michigan, Trump had all of the familiar tricks in his bag, including criticizing politicians he loves to hate, like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer — and of course, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
After spending the better part of his rally dismissing other Democratic women in power, Trump went in on Harris with a time-honored Trumpism: mispronouncing her name. “Biden’s running mate is America’s most liberal senator. She makes Bernie look like a conservative. Crazy Bernie is like a conservative compared to her,” Trump said, adding, “KAH-ma-la. You have to pronounce it exactly right, otherwise she gets very upset, even though she can’t pronounce it right. You saw that the other night, I think that was actually on the great Laura Ingraham show.”
Of course, this is not the first time Trump — or other Republicans — have purposely mispronounced Kamala Harris’s name in order to otherize her. It’s become a frequent joke at his campaign rallies — and he tells the same one again and again. “KAH-ma-la” and “COMMA-la,” the president tries out in different tones and decibels, trying to emphasize its “strangeness,” often then wielding the angry Black woman trope by saying it makes her "mad" when he does this.
Although Trump has continually jeered at Harris’s name, today’s statement that she doesn’t know how to pronounce it herself might be the most egregious jab yet — pushing a white supremacist notion that he knows how to pronounce something better than a Black and Asian-American woman. His behavior has encouraged the same from others on the right. At a recent Trump rally in Georgia, Sen. David Perdue degraded the vice presidential nominee, saying “Ka-mal-a, Comma-la, Ka-mala-mala-mala” before jokingly giving up and saying, “whatever.” Harris recently responded to politicians purposely saying her name wrong, stating, that they're "predictable and childish."
But Trump's rally speech in Michigan was full of other deeply problematic and unhinged moments. After mocking Harris, Trump went on to seek out Fox News host Laura Ingraham in the crowd. When he found her, he then jokingly disparaged her for wearing a face mask. “Where is Laura? I can’t recognize you. Is that a mask? No way! Are you wearing a mask? I’ve never seen her in a mask,” Trump shouted as he pointed at her. “Whoa, she’s being very politically correct,” he said as he laughed, insinuating that wearing masks is silly, despite only recovering from coronavirus himself mere weeks ago.
This is only one of Trump’s several stops on the campaign trail in Michigan, with more set to happen before the end of the weekend. And his trip there comes after healthcare workers in Michigan recently harshly criticized him for hosting events in the state when there’s a record number of new coronavirus cases there. According to the most recent data, the state is now reporting more than 2,200 new cases per day, a 22% increase from just a week ago.
With several days left to go, the president still has rallies scheduled in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and more. As he continues on his journey, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll have something of substance to say at the events — or if he’ll just keep reusing racist jokes.