California congresswoman puts foot in mouth with hand-to-mouth Native …

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

California congresswoman puts foot in mouth with hand-to-mouth Native American stereotypical gesture.

U.S. At this weekend’s California Democratic Convention in Anaheim, Sanchez’s singular goal was to present herself as a viable challenger to California Attorney General Kamala Harris in the race to succeed Barbara Boxer in the United States Senate.

California Rep. and Democratic Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez apologized Sunday for tapping her mouth and whooping in reference to American Indians, while speaking to a group of American Indians on the campaign trail Saturday. During her remarks late Sunday, Sanchez told the crowd that “in this crazy and exciting rush of meetings yesterday, I said something offensive and for that, I sincerely apologize.” “Those of you who put yourselves out there like I do, who open your heart, and who don’t hide behind handlers—you know how hard it can be,” the congresswoman continued. “It’s hard to put yourself out there and do what leaders need to do day in and day out. You can’t change the world from behind a desk.” On Saturday, the same day Harris delivered a rousing address to the convention, Sanchez was captured on video recounting her confusion when she received a phone call from a man who identified himself as an Indian American supporter. “I’m going to his office, thinking that I’m gonna go meet with woo-woo-woo-woo, right? ‘Cause he said ‘Indian American,'” she said, tapping her open hand against her mouth in an antiquated gesture associated with warring Native Americans.

The 10-term congresswoman told reporters she would leave the convention with momentum for her campaign, and her contrite words were greeted with a burst of applause. But it was clear her caricature at an event that highlights diversity and inclusion unsettled many activists, who said the video had become the buzz of the convention. A reporter told Sanchez’s opponent, Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, about the gesture. “I don’t know what to say to that,” she laughed, “except that…that’s shocking.

When asked whether it was an appropriate gesture to make to any people, the 55-year-old replied: “I think that Native Americans have an incredibly great history, and a great presence in our country, and many of them are supporting our election.” And they know what many of you don’t know—that like so many Mexican Americans, I am proudly Native American on my mother’s side.” To be sure, Sanchez was always going to be seen as an underdog to beat a better-funded, better-known opponent like Harris. She has criticized the plight of Vietnamese dissidents, participated in marches commemorating the Armenian genocide, demanded equal pay for equal work for women. The Indian caricature “seemed a step back in what this convention is about.” That was echoed by Dinah Frieden, a delegate who lives in Irvine, in Sanchez’s congressional district, who called the taped caricature “incredibly insensitive.” But Marni Magda, a Laguna Beach delegate who has volunteered for Sanchez and supports her Senate bid, said she was confident the congresswoman “would never be racist against anyone. She scheduled a fundraiser during the 2000 Democratic National Convention at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion and changed the location only after fellow Democrats protested.

California State University, San Francisco, political scientist David Lee, who is also a party delegate, said the episode would leave voters questioning her judgment. Lee noted that Harris, who entered the race in mid-January, has over $2 million on hand and has lined up a string of endorsements, including from Massachusetts Sen.

Earlier, Harris defended her qualifications on foreign affairs and national defense after Sanchez had suggested she doesn’t have the skills for the job in Washington. Harris told reporters that voters next year will determine who is qualified for the Senate seat, and her experience as a two-term attorney general and a former local prosecutor gave her the background she would need on Capitol Hill. “I feel certainly equipped to have a sense of what California needs and wants as it relates to many issues,” Harris said. Harris said that everywhere she travels as a candidate she is asked how she can “possibly expect to get anything done” in paralyzed Beltway politics.

Sanchez, speaking to members of the party’s Chicano Latino Caucus, said she wanted to appeal across the state’s diverse population. “We will win, and we will win with a fabric of everybody,” she said.

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