ABC aired an ad during Thursday’s Democratic debate that depicted a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and likened her politics to those that caused the Cambodian genocide.
New Faces GOP funded the ad, which features Elizabeth Heng, a Republican who lost a bid for a Fresno-area congressional seat last year.
Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, calling the ad a “love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist base.”
In the ad, Heng calls Ocasio-Cortez “the face of socialism and ignorance.”
“My father was minutes from death in Cambodia, before a forced marriage saved his life,” she says. “That’s socialism. Forced obedience, starvation.”
“Mine is a face of freedom,” she continues. “My skin is not white, I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”
Critics blasted ABC for agreeing to run the ad.
Heng also used images of the Cambodian genocide in her political ads last year, which were temporarily blocked by Facebook. Some in the GOP touted Heng, a Cambodian-American millennial, as the party’s answer to Ocasio-Cortez.
“Heng says she’d enjoy debating Ocasio-Cortez on the House floor,” the San Jose Mercury-News reported.
Heng lost to Rep. Jim Costa by 15 points. Since then, she appears to have kept up her interest in Ocasio-Cortez. In June, she wrote an op/ed for the Fresno Bee about a Memorial Day scoreboard video aired by the Fresno Grizzlies, in which Ocasio-Cortez’s image appeared alongside Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un. The team apologized for the video and said it was an inadvertent mistake, but Heng defended it.
“Make no mistake about it, socialism is coming to America, and it is clear that those who criticize it, even accidentally, will be silenced,” she wrote at the time. “We need to speak up now — before we are no longer allowed to speak.”
New Faces GOP had raised about $170,000 as of June 30, mostly from donors in the Fresno area. The video appears to have allowed Heng to fulfill her goal of debating Ocasio-Cortez, at least on Twitter. In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, Heng wrote: “Are you really calling me a racist @aoc? I’m calling all Democrats out for supporting an evil ideology. Or are you just in Congress to hang out with celebrities and tweet out ridiculous ideas like the green new deal?”