Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has hit back at a Republican congressman who referred to her as “this girl or whatever she is”.
Ron Desantis – who is a candidate for governor of Florida – mocked the 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America at a campaign event in Florida on Saturday.
“You look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez, or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe. It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance,” he said at the event in Orange Park.
The rising star – who used a grassroots campaign to storm to victory against Democrat stalwart Joe Crowley in a New York primary last month – fired back at him and told him who she was.
“Rep DeSantis, it seems you‘re confused as to ‘whatever I am',” she said.
“I am a Puerto Rican woman. It‘s strange you don’t know what that is, given that ~75,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Florida in the 10 months since María.”
She added: “But I’m sure these new FL voters appreciate your comments!”
Mr DeSantis, who is an outspoken ally of Donald Trump, took further aim at Ms Ocasio-Cortez during his speech for recently criticising the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a self-avowed socialist from the South Bronx, described Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an “occupation” in a recent interview with PBS News. This marked a key departure from the pro-Israel line taken by both Democratic and Republican parties.
Israel has been occupying the West Bank territory since the 1967 Middle East war, according to the United Nations, and most countries deem the continued building of Jewish settlements in the disputed territory as illegal.
However, the establishment arms of both the Republican and Democratic Party have chiefly adopted pro-Israel positions for the last two decades.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez referred to Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine as causing a humanitarian crisis. But she later clarified that she meant that Israeli settlements are growing in areas where Palestinians are concentrated – adding she was “not the expert” on the issue.
Referencing the interview, Mr DeSantis said: “There’s never been a Palestinian state. You’re just repeating these canned, left-wing talking points, and you’re somehow the saviour of the Democratic Party? Good Lord. She has no clue what she’s talking about.”
Mr DeSantis was applauded by Mr Trump last month, who said he would make a “great” governor.
The US president tweeted: “Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes- Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez is running as a Democrat in New York’s 14th Congressional District – which includes the Bronx and Queens – after beating Mr Crowley.
The unexpected victory of the political newcomer, who volunteered for Bernie Sanders, thrashing the 10-term representative in the June primary has been seen as symptomatic of a Democratic party in revolt.
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