The third Democratic presidential debate took place at Texas Southern University on Thursday, September 12, and the atmosphere was anything but calm. In between extensive discussion of topics including health care reform, gun control, and foreign policy, the 10 Democratic hopefuls revealed quite a bit about what their presidential terms might look like.
But if Joe Biden’s slip-ups and Bernie Sanders’ gravely voice weren’t enough to distract viewers from the night’s more pressing issues, then something else raised eyebrows. Midway through the ABC-hosted debate, a Republican-affiliated PAC apparently ran a television ad depicting the image of Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez burning.
Narrated by Elizabeth Heng, a former Republican candidate for Congress in California, the New Faces GOP spot opens by denouncing socialism, asking if viewers really want another progressive Democrat with views similar to Ocasio-Cortez’s.
“This is the face of socialism,” Heng says as a photo of Ocasio-Cortez is set on fire. The clip then cuts away to shots of the Cambodian genocide. “That’s socialism,” adds Heng as images of lifeless bodies and human skulls fill the screen. “Mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white. I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”
Ocasio-Cortez addressed the ad on Twitter, where she said that the spot wasn’t addressed to young conservatives of color, but instead, was a “love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist case.” “Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren’t racist,” she wrote. “Life is weird!”
Viewers who saw the spot were outraged: