Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee attempted to insult Republican voters in South Carolina by likening them to people with Down syndrome.
In a recent interview published in The Nashville Scene, Cooper said South Carolina voters have “extra chromosomes” for supporting South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s re-election instead of choosing Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison.
“You’re probably talking about Jaime Harrison, who was an outstanding candidate. But that is South Carolina. I’ve said for years that they have extra chromosomes, South Carolina voters,” Cooper stated. “Anybody who could re-elect Lindsey Graham after his two-faced performance on federal judges, they have a tolerance that I can’t imagine.”
While many media outlets and polls predicted that Harrison would give Graham a literal run for his money, the sitting senator won the Nov. 3 election and his seat by more than a 10 percent margin.
While Cooper’s comments were intended to mock Republicans and criticize Graham, the National Down Syndrome Society’s website suggests that people exercise caution when using certain language surrounding the condition. The organization not only specifies that people who don’t have Down syndrome should not be referred to as such but also say there are specific language guidelines to follow when discussing people with the condition.
Just this week, a federal appeals court ruled Cooper’s home state Tennessee can enforce laws banning abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
The ban was first signed by Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee in July, but U.S. District Judge William Campbell issued a temporary restraining order against it, claiming that “sections of the anti-abortion law were illegal.”
“This Court leaves debate about Roe, Casey, and their progeny to the learned jurists on the Supreme Court, legal scholars, legislators, and the public — a debate that remains lively and important,” Campbell wrote.
Cooper’s brother, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, did not respond to a request for comment about his brother’s remarks.
Shortly after his chromosome comments, the Blue Dog Coalition member who has served as a representative from Tennessee for 16 terms, said that he credited the Lincoln Project and other “Never Trump” groups for turning some heads towards the Biden-Harris ticket.
“As former Republicans and now NeverTrumpers, they knew their target audience to persuade former Republicans and independents now to be for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said Cooper.
Despite his optimism about the presidential race, Cooper also expressed frustration with the Democrats’ performances in the House and Senate, saying they were both “a big disappointment.”