Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Friday defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accusation that Pelosi was “singling out” Democrat women of color.
Specifically, Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post on Wednesday:
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” she said. “But the persistent singling out … it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
Ocasio-Cortez was speaking of the progressive women who refer to themselves as the “squad” — herself, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayana Pressley (D-MA), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
When asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks in an interview with the Breakfast Club radio show on Friday morning, Harris did not explicitly disagree with Ocasio-Cortez, but said she had a “different experience” with Pelosi.
“Listen, that’s not my experience with Nancy Pelosi. And I’ve known her and have been working with her for years,” she said. “I’ve known her to be very respectful to women of color and very supportive of them. So I have a different experience.”
Asked why Ocasio-Cortez was so polarizing to older Democrats, Harris called Ocasio-Cortez “smart” and “bold.”
“Look, I think she is bold and smart as anything, she’s so smart, and bold. And the thing I really like about her is that she requires people to question the premise. Like she doesn’t let, she’s not going to go with status quo because that’s the way it’s always been done, she questions,” Harris said.
“And I think that’s healthy,” she added. “I think that when you have anyone who is as smart and as bold as her questioning the system and doing it in such an effective way, it can begin to throw people off their game.”
Since Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, black lawmakers have come out to defend Pelosi.
According to the Root:
Veteran African-American Democrats in the House are taking freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to task over how she’s come for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and comments AOC’s chief of staff made comparing moderate Democratic caucuses to Southern pro-segregationist Democrats of old.
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, accused Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with the Hill of “using the race card” against Pelosi.
“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,” he said. “It shows you how weak their argument is when they have to resort and direct racist accusations toward Speaker Pelosi … it’s very disappointing to me.”
Some black lawmakers are also furious at Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff bashing moderate Democrats and tweeting, “Instead of ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal,’ let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Caucus the ‘New Southern Democrats.’ They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did the 40s.”
Clay called those remarks “juvenile.”
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) said, according to Politico, “I was highly offended by that—I represent the Deep South.”