Ocasio-Cortez slams ad that aired during Dem debate

Ad met with outrage online

By Fredreka Schouten, CNN
Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) 

(CNN) - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday criticized a television ad from a new Republican-aligned political action committee that calls her "ignorant" and sets fire to her picture.

"Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren't racist," the New York Democrat tweeted. "Life is weird!"

The 30-second spot, which aired during Thursday's Democratic national debate on ABC, is the first public splash from the New Faces GOP PAC, run by former congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng.

It opens with an image of Ocasio-Cortez, whom Heng calls the "face of socialism and ignorance." Ocasio-Cortez's face then burns away to reveal images of skulls.

Heng, a Cambodian American touted as a young, rising Republican star during her unsuccessful bid for a US House seat in California last year, recounts her family's flight from socialism in Cambodia in the 30-second spot.

"Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horror of socialism?" Heng asks.

"Mine is the face of freedom," Heng says to the camera during the ad's closing seconds. "My skin is not white. I'm not outrageous, racist nor socialist. I'm a Republican."

The ad was met with outrage online, and #BoycottABC was trending early Friday morning.

Heng responded to Ocasio-Cortez on Friday morning, tweeting, ".@aoc response is the Democratic party in a nutshell. They are more offended by truthful words than the acts of their political ideology that has killed millions of innocent victims. I don't care about @AOC feelings - I care about stopping her lies about the lies of socialism."

In a news release previewing the ad, the PAC's organizers say the mission is twofold: Broaden the GOP's image and "lead the fight against socialism."

The political action committee described the ad as a "select TV buy in major media markets." An ABC spokeswoman said the ad did not run on the national telecast of the debate, meaning it was purchased through local stations in markets like Washington.

The group, which formally launched in March, reported raising a little more than $170,000 through the end of June, much of it from California-based donors, Federal Election Commission records show.

Ocasio-Cortez is one of the House's most high-profile freshmen and one-fourth of a quartet of freshmen lawmakers, known as "the Squad," who have clashed publicly with President Donald Trump.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, another member of the so-called Squad, on Friday called the ad "horrifying to watch" and said it should be pulled from the airwaves.

"When will the Republicans learn how to offer ideas and solutions without stroking fear and inciting violence?," she tweeted. "Enough is enough. They need to pull this garbage off the air and issue an apology to @AOC."

As he gears up for his reelection campaign, Trump has sought to closely tie Democrats on Capitol Hill and those running for the presidency to socialism and lawmakers such as Ocasio-Cortez.

CNN's Brian Stelter and Kerry Flynn contributed to this report.

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