U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., did herself no favors as a budding Senate candidate during her speech before Indian-American delegates at a California Democratic Convention event in Anaheim Saturday: She made a gesture that referenced a "war cry" frequently seen in films with stereotypical depictions of Native Americans, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sanchez announced last week she is seeking the Senate seat that will be vacated when Sen. Barbara Boxer retires next year.
Sanchez made the gesture while describing her confusion over someone who'd called himself "Indian-American," as she couldn't figure out whether he meant Native American or South Asian.
"I'm going to his office, thinkin' that I'm gonna go meet with woo-woo-woo-woo, right? 'Cause he said, 'Indian American,'" Sanchez said, according to CNN, which also reported that she ran away from a reporter when asked about the stereotypical gesture.
Sanchez's primary competition for the Senate seat, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, answered a question about her rival's use of the gesture by saying: "I don’t know what to say to that. That, that, that’s shocking." As it happens, Harris is the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican-American father.
A cell-phone video of Sanchez's gesture was recorded by delegate Uduak-Joe Ntuk. "I was shocked and appalled that she would make the disparaging comments about Native Americans that way," he said. "It's just very undemocratic."
Sanchez, a Democrat whose district is in largely conversative Orange County, is a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees. Sanchez is largely seen as a more conservative candidate than Harris in the Senate race, and she reportedly views immigration reform "through the lens of national security."