The Sept. 12 Democratic debate was full of heated exchanges and unexpected moments, but perhaps the most shocking aspect of the debate was one of the commercials that aired during it. In the ad, which was created by a Republican Super PAC, a picture of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez burst into flames and then faded into images of dead bodies and human skills. The images prompted widespread horror on social media, and these tweets about a Republican's AOC ad are wondering why it was approved.
According to Vice, the ad came from the New Faces PAC, which is run by former California Republican Congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng. Heng is the narrator of the commercial, in which she compares Ocasio-Cortez's progressive policies to the Cambodian genocide. From 1975 to 1979, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge government — which described itself as having communist origins — tortured and executed between 1.5 million and 2 million people. Heng, the daughter of Cambodian refugees, used her ad to compare Ocasio-Cortez to the Khmer Rouge.
“This is the face of socialism and ignorance," Heng said in the ad, speaking over images of violence from the Cambodian genocide. "Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horrors of socialism?”
“Mine is a face of freedom,” Heng added at the end of the commercial. “My skin is not white. I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.” Elite Daily reached out to New Faces PAC for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In response, Ocasio-Cortez argued that the 30-second TV spot was not "an ad for young conservatives of color," as Heng appeared to suggest, but rather "a love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist case." Many Twitter users appeared to agree with Ocasio-Cortez's criticism, and wondered why ABC had permitted the commercial to air in the first place. Elite Daily reached out to representatives of ABC News for comment or response, but did not immediately hear back.
This is not the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has faced attacks from Republicans for her progressive policies, nor is it the first time the GOP has attacked Democrats for being "socialists." As recently as Sept. 10, President Donald Trump told rally attendees in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for the "rise of radical socialism." During his 2019 State of the Union address earlier this year, Trump insisted that "America will never be a socialist country." According to The New York Times, the majority of Republicans have joined in Trump's efforts to rebrand Democrats as "socialists," even though most Democrats do not ascribe to socialism. Ocasio-Cortez — like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — ran for Congress on a democratic socialist platform, in which she advocated for social stances such as education and health care being universally accessible.
Heng's ad is only the GOP's latest attack on Ocasio-Cortez; there have been many since she starting running for Congress. Conservatives have criticized Ocasio-Cortez on everything from her proposed Green New Deal to her description of the Electoral College as a racist "scam." Along with other progressive women of color in the House, Ocasio-Cortez has been vocal on issues such as immigration, climate change, health care, and education. If her reaction to the latest Republican attack ad proves anything, it's that she has no plans to slow down her calls for change.