Kamala Harris Apologizes for Her Reaction to ‘Mentally Retarded’ Remark About Trump

September 9, 2019 Updated: September 9, 2019

Presidential candidate for 2020 Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “well said” to a man at a campaign stop who described President Donald Trump’s actions as “mentally retarded.”

Harris said over the weekend that she heard the man talk about “the other stuff” but didn’t hear the “mentally retarded” remark.

She told a CBS reporter who asked her about the situation: “It’s an incredibly offensive term and as someone who has a longstanding relationship and advocacy for our disability community—in fact, I have a proposal on it that I’ve been working on for some time and rolled out weeks ago—it’s offensive and you would think 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 and really ignoring the needs and realities and capacity by the disability community.”

“You didn’t correct him though,” the reporter responded. “Did you hear him?”

“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 in any way condone, that’s for sure,” Harris said.

In a statement on Twitter, Harris added: “When my staff played the video from my town hall yesterday, it was upsetting. I didn’t hear the words the man used in that moment, but if I had I would’ve stopped and corrected him. I’m sorry. That word and others like it aren’t acceptable. Ever.”

Harris was campaigning in New Hampshire on Sept. 6 when a man asked her what she was going to do in the next year to “demolish the mentally retarded action of this president.”

The crowd applauded as Harris laughed and said, “Well said, well said.”

Harris received backlash from people on both sides. Kendally Brown, who describes herself as a disabled healthcare advocate, was among those posting video footage of the exchange on Twitter: “I hate amplifying content I know the right will seize on and twist for their own hypocritical gain, but this hurts my heart.”

“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,” she added.

Los Angeles Times reporter Melania Mason said she was at the event “but didn’t hear” the man “use that phrase.”

“It was kind of hard to hear in the press file,” she added.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber