- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 7, 2019

White House hopeful Sen. Kamala D. Harris said Saturday that she had not “really heard or processed” what was said before she laughed in response to someone describing President Trump’s policies as “mentally retarded.”

Ms. Harris, California Democrat, offered the explanation amid facing criticism after video of the recent exchange began circulating on social media over the weekend.

“Let me just be really clear,” Ms. Harris told NBC News. “I would never condone that kind of language being spoken by anybody about anybody,” she said in a video shared by the network.

“It’s offensive, and you would think that in the year 2019, people would have a much better understanding how hurtful a term like that can be – but also the history behind it, which is the history of really ignoring the needs and the realities and the capacity of our disabilities community,” Ms. Harris told CBS News, the outlet reported.

Video of the exchange shared Friday on Twitter showed Ms. Harris being asked at a campaign event about how she planned to reverse Mr. Trump’s “mentally retarded” actions if elected.

“Well said,” Ms. Harris laughed in response. “Well said.”

Asked about the exchange afterward, CBS reported that Ms. Harris indicated she did not fully understood what was asked.

“I heard him talk about the other stuff. And then that came later. And it was not something that I really heard or processed,” Ms. Harris reportedly told the network.

Ms. Harris had come under fire after the video surfaced online, drawing the ire of disability advocates over her apparent approval of the use of the word “retarded.”

“Using ‘retarded’ as a slur and an insult is never, EVER ‘well said’,” said Kendall Brown, a self-described disabled healthcare advocate who shared video of the exchange from her verified Twitter account. “It’s ALWAYS a betrayal of the disability community.”

“R-word is unacceptable. It is a slur, an insult,” agreed actor and activist Nyle DiMarco. “Kamala should have handled this better.”

Ms. Harris, a former attorney general for California, is among 10 candidates who have qualified to participate in the third and next Democratic primary debate scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12.

The results of recent polling released last week by Quinnipiac University said that 7% of Democratic voters surveyed prefer the senator to the rest of the pack, placing her in fourth-place behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent.

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