Less than two days after an army of Twitter trolls and far-right figures tried to undercut Sen. Kamala Harris’ breakout debate performance by unleashing a barrage of birther-style conspiracies, the California Democrat’s own 2020 rivals banded together on Saturday to defend her and crush the “racist and vile” attacks.
Harris “doesn’t have shit to prove,” Sen. Cory Booker tweeted in response to the surge in birther claims.
The conspiracies erupted on Twitter during night two of the Democratic debate on Thursday—just as Harris won praise for giving what many saw as the strongest debate performance.
Even Donald Trump Jr. was among those to amplify an attack on Harris first made by Ali Alexander, a MAGA-world figure, claiming that Harris should not be commenting on matters of race because she is not an “American black,” but “half Indian and half Jamaican.”
Trump Jr. later deleted his retweet circulating the claim, and his spokesman said he had retweeted it simply because he had not realized Harris was half-Indian.
Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, was born in Oakland, California, and was among the first wave of black students to benefit from federally mandated busing in Berkeley in the 1970s. Her standout moment on the debate stage came when she opened up about her own experience growing up black in America.
When she was accused of not really being black, it was her own Democratic opponents in the 2020 race that jumped to decry the attacks.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and former vice president Joe Biden, among others, joined in condemning the claims against Harris on Saturday.
“These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior,” Klobuchar wrote.
“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,” Warren tweeted.
Biden, who took heat from Harris during the debate for his stance on busing and apparently fond recollection of de-segregationist senators, said the “same forces” who tried to undermine former President Barack Obama with birtherism claims were at it again with Harris.
“It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America,” he wrote on Twitter.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also called for an end to the “racist, birther-style attacks,” saying Harris’ “first-generation story embodies the American dream.”
“The presidential competitive field is stronger because Kamala Harris has been powerfully voicing her Black American experience,” he tweeted.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took his condemnation of the conspiracy theories a step further and suggested they could be traced straight back to the “Trump family.” (President Trump famously spread birtherism claims about Obama ahead of the 2012 election, repeatedly calling on him to release his birth certificate.)
In comments to CNN on Saturday, Inslee said he had one question for the Trumps in light of Donald Trump Jr.’s initial retweet of the birther claim: “Well, unfortunately it appears that the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the rotten tree. What comes to mind is the question to the whole Trump family at last, have you no decency sirs?”