August 07, 2019 12:23:17
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called out US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over an Instagram post showing his supporters choking and groping a cardboard cut-out depicting her.
The image shows a group of young, white men wearing “Team Mitch” shirts posing around the effigy.
Some of the them posed with their thumbs down, but one pretended to kiss the cut-out, while another simulated choking.
The caption read “break me off a piece of that”.
The post has created a stir at a time when the Republican senator is campaigning to retain his Kentucky seat, and as a gun control bill begins to pick up momentum in the US Congress.
How did this blow up?
A screenshot of the Instagram post was tweeted by the feminist account @emrazz, which has more than 175,000 followers.
It tagged the congresswoman, who retweeted it a few hours later.
“Hey [US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] — these young men look like they work for you,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch? Thanks.
Here’s what we know about the young men
The name of the Instagram account that posted the photo has been blocked out, so it’s not certain who the young men are.
However some on Twitter have identified them as students of the Lexington Christian Academy in Kentucky.
Senator McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is campaigning to retain his seat, and both he and his supporters had been out and about at an annual Fancy Farm Picnic on Sunday.
The Team Mitch campaign said the young men were actually high school students, not campaign staff, and chastised the media for its reporting on the image.
“‘We’ve watched for years as the far-left and the media look for every possible way to demonise, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics,” campaign manager Kevin Golden reportedly said in a statement.
The Team Mitch campaign also tweeted its response:
Nevertheless, Mr Golden made it clear the Team Mitch campaign did not condone the young men’s actions.
“Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life-sized cardboard cut-outs of any gender in a manner similar to what we saw from President Obama’s speechwriting staff several years ago.”
Wait, Obama’s speechwriter did what?
If you thought you had seen a story about men groping a cardboard cut-out of a female politician before, you would be right.
In 2008, Barack Obama’s aides (including Jon Favreau, who became Mr Obama’s presidential speechwriter) posed with a cut-out of Hillary Clinton, who was Mr Obama’s Democratic rival candidate at the time.
Mr Favreau reportedly apologised to Mrs Clinton, whose team made light of the situation at the time.
McConnell, the proud ‘Grim Reaper’
This isn’t the first controversy the Team Mitch campaign has faced this week.
The campaign tweeted a picture (also from the Fancy Farm event) of tombstones with opponents’ names on them.
Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running to unseat Senator McConnell in Kentucky, was one of the names.
In a campaign race that has continued to play out on Twitter, the Democrat tweeted the tombstone tactic was “troubling”.
“Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo,” she wrote.
“I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent [me] as messaging.”
But in the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings on the weekend, a bipartisan gun reform proposal has been gaining momentum.
The plan would create a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
But Senator McConnell, who has adopted the nickname “Grim Reaper” due to his success at blocking Democratic bills — is widely considered the single biggest roadblock to changes in gun laws or any significant legislation in Congress.
While he has not publicly stated his position on red flag laws, he issued a statement on Monday that said: “Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part” to address gun violence.
August 07, 2019 12:20:25