BALTIMORE -- Sen. Kamala Harris said in an Associated Press interview published Tuesday that Donald Trump's attacks on Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings were "disrespectful," telling the news organization that the Republican "does not understand the significance of the words of the president of the United States."
The Democratic senator from California and 2020 presidential hopeful was asked about her decision to set up her campaign headquarters in Baltimore and the president's comments on Twitter calling the city a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess."
A number of political leaders denounced Trump's comments as racist, and Harris said in July that Trump's "long list of statements and tweets and behaviors ... make it very clear that he possesses hate and that he is divisive and that he is a racist."
Trump's comments followed his calls for four congresswomen of color to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," despite the fact that three of the women were born in the United States.
The president and his supporters have pushed back on claims that Trump is a racist, saying his comments have helped shed a light on Baltimore's problems and were not about race.
While she did not repeat the claim in an interview with an AP reporter on her bus tour through Iowa, she said that Trump "is disrespectful" and that he doesn't understand the weight his words carry.
"He is disrespectful," she said. "He clearly is not a student of history in terms of understanding the historical significance of certain moments in time or certain places, and the fact that he spoke the word he did about Elijah Cummings ... it's just continually further evidence of a person who does not understand the significance of the words of the president of the United States. Those words should be used in a way that is about lifting people up, not beating them down.
"The people of Baltimore are the people he represents. To speak of them like the other is just vivid evidence of the fact that the guy does not understand his job and therefore should not be in that job. Most other people, if they keep showing they don't understand what the job requires, get fired. He needs to get fired. That's why I'm running against him. Dude gotta go!"
After announcing she would set up her campaign headquarters in Baltimore, Harris' sister and campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, told The Baltimore Sun in July they chose the city because it is similar to the Oakland, California, area, where the two grew up.
In response to a question about responding to Trump's comments on social media, Harris said she believes "this is a moment that is challenging leaders to have the courage to speak and say that is not effective of a leader, much less the leader of our nation and the so-called free world."
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