BISMARCK — U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer has apologized for a tweet containing an offensive word sent out Tuesday night, March 24. Cramer maintains the incident occurred because his "fat fingers" combined with the auto-correct function on his phone's keyboard caused the slur to appear from his account.
At 7:42 p.m. Central time, the North Dakota Republican tweeted "she's retarded" from his official senatorial account in reply to a Twitter post from conservative news outlet The Daily Caller about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal for an economic stimulus package.
Cramer deleted the post about 10 minutes later and told Forum News Service he meant to write "she's ridiculous," but auto-correct changed what he had typed. He went on to say he doesn't use the term, which "is offensive because of its historical use toward people with disabilities."
The first-term senator said Wednesday morning he is "really sorry this incident happened" and reaffirmed his previous explanation.
All variations of the term "retard" are now widely recognized as pejorative toward people with cognitive and physical disabilities. As recently as 2013, some federal laws and documents referred to intellectual disabilities as "mental retardation," but a movement to retire "the R-word" has largely succeeded in making the term taboo.
North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen told Forum News Service there's "not a shot that (Cramer) is telling the truth." The former state lawmaker said it's not even possible that auto-correct would produce the word unless Cramer typed it regularly.
"I have no idea why anyone would use that word, let alone a sitting U.S. senator," Oversen said. "It's offensive and hurtful and unacceptable."
Senate leaders and the White House came to terms early Wednesday morning on a $2 trillion stimulus package that aims to stabilize the U.S. economy, which has seen a swift downturn due the coronavirus. The deal, on which the Senate will likely vote Wednesday, follows days of contentious negotiations between party leaders, according to the Washington Post.