Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) drew a sharp retort on Monday from New York congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after he referred to the Democratic rising star as “this girl” in a campaign speech.
DeSantis, who is running for Florida governor, made the remarks at an event over the weekend. Video of the speech surfaced on Monday and was highlighted by the HuffPost and other news outlets.
“You look at this girl, Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” DeSantis, 39, said in the speech. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance. And it’s problematic.”
He took aim at a PBS “Firing Line” interview in which the 28-year-old criticized Israel’s “occupation of Palestine” and then acknowledged, “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”
Excerpts of the exchange, as well as of several other campaign stumbles by Ocasio-Cortez, have been featured frequently on Fox News Channel in recent weeks as Republicans have sought to cast the self-described democratic socialist as the new face of the Democratic Party.
“You’re just repeating these canned, left-wing talking points, and you’re somehow the savior of the Democratic Party? Good Lord!” De Santis said, adding: “She has no clue what she’s talking about.”
Ocasio-Cortez fired back in a tweet Monday afternoon in which she referenced her Puerto Rican heritage and made note of the tens of thousands of people who left the island for Florida afterHurricane Maria.
“Rep DeSantis, it seems you’re confused as to ‘whatever I am,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez 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 mos since María. But I’m sure these new FL voters appreciate your comments!”
Ocasio-Cortez became a progressive cause celebre after her surprise primary victory over longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley in New York’s 14th District last month. She hit the trail with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week to campaign for liberal candidates in Kansas — although she has also ruffled the feathers of some moderate Democrats who have criticized her willingness to take on the party establishment.
DeSantis, who recently won the endorsement of President Trump, shot back at Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter Monday evening.
“My problem is not with your identity but with your unhinged socialist views,” he said in one message.
“Trust me,” he added in a second tweet, “socialism wrapped in ignorance is something Floridians from all walks of life reject.”