U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, addressing Democratic activists Sunday, apologized for a gesture mocking American Indians, offering that candidates “who don’t hide behind the handlers” sometimes misstep.
Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman, said the Native American “war cry,” made while speaking to an American Indian group in Anaheim on Saturday, came amid a “crazy and exciting rush of meetings.” In a video posted on social media, Sanchez holds her hand in front of her mouth and makes a whooping sound. “I said something offensive, and for that I sincerely apologize.”
Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, speaking at the California Democratic Party convention, said her free-flowing approach has long connected with voters.
“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,” she said. “It’s hard to put yourself out there and do what leaders need to do day in and day out. Sooner or later, we all make mistakes. We’re all human. But that is the only way to truly connect with people. You can’t change the world from behind a desk.”
Kamala Harris, the other Democrat in the race, called the action “shocking” and said there was no place for it in public discourse. On Sunday, Harris spokesman Nathan Click said “the attorney general thinks Congresswoman Sanchez was right to apologize for her comment. She hopes this campaign will be about uniting all Californians.”
Sanchez said she is proud of her record on human, civil and minority rights, as well as the rights of Native Americans. Sanchez said she’s spent time at tribal councils listening and advocating for members, saying “they know that I have always had their backs.”
“And they know what many of you don’t know,” she added. “Like so many Mexican Americans, I am proudly part Native American – on my mother’s side.”
Sanchez said she would take the “high road,” and in a news conference with reporters declined to elaborate on the speech.