Democrat congressman rips Ocasio-Cortez for playing ‘race card’ to attack Pelosi

July 12, 2019

A Missouri Democrat blasted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for using “the race card” to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In a dramatic escalation of the intra-party feud between AOC and the party’s leader, Ocasio-Cortez accused Pelosi on Wednesday of “singling out” newly elected women of color. But Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) slammed AOC on Thursday for using a “weak argument” and taking cheap shots at Pelosi to get her way, the Washington Examiner reports.

“What a weak argument, because you can’t get your way and because you’re getting pushback, you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable. That’s unbelievable to me,” Clay said. “I could care less. I could really care less. I agree with the speaker. Four people, four votes out of 240 people, who cares?”

Playing the “race card”

Since January, a feud has played out between the more moderate and overtly progressive factions of the Democratic Party amid a running commentary on whether Pelosi is losing control to Ocasio-Cortez and her group of young radicals. But in numerous not-so-hidden snubs, Pelosi has made it abundantly clear that she’s still the party matriarch while dismissing the importance of the social media clout of AOC and her allies.

In an interview with The Washington Post last weekend, Pelosi sidelined Ocasio-Cortez and three other progressives — Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who with AOC call themselves the “squad” — saying that despite their power in “Twitter world,” they still have only four votes in Congress, Fox News reports. Pelosi was criticizing the four lawmakers for opposing a House border funding bill, which progressives said did not go far enough to protect immigrants from abuse — although they also wanted to block money for immigration enforcement.

Indeed, Pelosi and other moderates agreed last month to support a more conservative border funding bill to help cash-strapped government agencies care for migrants in detention, according to The Hill. The House speaker’s concession on the bill brought stinging comments from progressive lawmakers, some of whom compared the moderate Democrats to child abusers.

Ocasio-Cortez raised the stakes Wednesday, accusing Pelosi of “singling out” women of color — effectively insinuating that Pelosi was discriminating against AOC and her fellow “squad” members. On Thursday, AOC sought to backtrack, saying that Pelosi is “absolutely not racist” — but her comments had already inflamed an intra-party feud that had been simmering seemingly since AOC took office.

Party feud bursts open

Several Democrats came to Pelosi’s defense, including Clay, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Clay said it was “disappointing” to see Ocasio-Cortez invoke “the race card” and slammed the “juvenile” tactics of her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, and the progressive group Justice Democrats, which supported AOC’s campaign.

Justice Democrats have called for a primary challenge to Clay and other moderate Dems. In a now-deleted tweet, Chakrabarti called centrist Democrats the “new Southern Democrats” who “certainly seem hell-bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”

Chakrabarti’s tweet prompted a stinging rebuke from Pelosi, who in a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday warned Democrats to settle their differences in private — not on Twitter.

“So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,” Pelosi told Democrats, according to Politico. “But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.”

Defending Pelosi?

Meanwhile, moderate Democrats have accused progressives of missing the bigger picture by attacking Pelosi, with Clay saying that AOC and Justice Democrats are forgetting that Democrats have a thin majority they need to defend.

“They’re missing the fact that we have a very thin margin of a majority that we’re operating under and apparently it doesn’t matter to Justice Democrats, they just want to get skins,” the congressman said. “They want to score points for whatever reason. But I find it juvenile, their tactics, I find their ignorance to be beyond belief about American history and about who are really segregationists. And so how dare they try to play the race card at this point, it shows you the weakness of their arguments.”

Even President Donald Trump, who has feuded constantly with Pelosi since January, said that Ocasio-Cortez crossed a line.

“I deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot and we go back and forth and it’s fine, but I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her,” he said, according to The Hill. “And you know what, I don’t think that Nancy can let that go on.”

Trump went on to say that Pelosi “is not a racist,” adding: “For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.”

With Democrats this divided, who needs Republicans to oppose them?

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.