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Kamala Harris Dismisses Claim Black Voters Won’t Support Buttigieg


Harris called the claims “misinformed, misdirected, and just simply wrong.”

Kamala Harris has dismissed claims that Black voters are less likely to support Pete Buttigieg as "nonsense."

The presidential candidate was responding to comments over the weekend from South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, who told CNN that there was "no question" that Buttigieg's sexuality was a problem for older Black voters.

"I know of a lot of people my age that feel that way," Clyburn said. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. I think everybody knows that's an issue."

But Harris rejected that claim, speaking with CNN not long after.

"I'm never going to buy into that trope," she told Wolf Blitzer. "I think it's a trope that has evolved among some Democrats to suggest that some African Americans are homophobic or that there's transphobia in the Black community as a community. That's just nonsense."

Harris added that "the reality is that sadly and unfortunately in all communities bias occurs, and in particular homophobia and transphobia."

"I've spent my career fighting against it, so I know it is a fact," she said. "But to label one community in particular as being burdened by this bias as compared to others is misinformed, it's misdirected and it's just simply wrong."

Buttigieg agreed. Speaking with CNN from Iowa, he said that he'd faced similar speculation during his mayoral campaign in South Bend, but ultimately he said the question facing voters was how a candidate would impact their lives if elected.

"At the end of the day I think the reason why the people in my community moved past that and reelected me," Buttigieg said, "is because elections are about this: They're about voters asking a question, 'How will my life be different if you get elected versus somebody else?'" I think we have the best answer to that question."

"It is remarkable how Americans are capable of moving past old habit," he added, "moving past old prejudices, making history, and getting the president that will serve them best regardless of the other noise that's circling around the race."

The dustup comes after an internal report from the Buttigieg campaign sparked concerns about whether the candidate's sexual orientation is a liability for Black voters.

Last month, it emerged that the campaign commissioned three 90-minute focus groups of undecided Black voters in July. All of the prospective voters expressed skepticism about Buttigieg's candidacy. At the time, this was reported as "a barrier" with Black voters, although there was nothing in the report to indicate that Black voters were more reluctant to vote for him than any others.

Speaking with Out, a spokesperson for the Buttigieg campaign said that the focus group wasn't about race and that various elements of Buttigieg's bio came up in the discussion. "It was not set up to explore Pete's sexuality and the questions in that focus group were no different than questions we asked white focus groups." they said. "The purpose of the focus group is always the same."

Polling from the Public Religion Research Institute shows Black Protestants are broadly supportive of same-sex marriage and oppose religious exemptions to providing services based on sexual orientation.

But an early-October poll of over 1,200 Black voters showed that only about one percent supported Buttigieg, compared to 36 percent for Biden. A Fox News poll from around the same time, examining likely voters in South Carolina, indicated similar results -- with Buttigieg's support in the low double-digits among Black voters and around 13 percent for white voters.

RELATED | Buttigieg Campaign Defends Black Voter Focus Groups

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