GOP governor hopeful defends calling Ocasio-Cortez 'this girl': She referred to herself as 'a girl'

Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida secretary of state who resigned apologizes for blackface photos The Hill's Morning Report — Trump complicates border wall negotiations Parkland parents ask Pulitzer panel to honor local paper for school shooting coverage MORE (R-Fla.) defended himself on Wednesday for calling first-time House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "this girl," saying that the self-declared democratic socialist has previously referred to herself as a girl. 

“I would note, she referred to herself as ‘a girl from the Bronx’ on Stephen Colbert’s show,” DeSantis said during an interview with Fox News, referencing Ocasio-Cortez's appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

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His defense came after he took heat for referring to Ocasio-Cortez as "this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is” while speaking at a campaign event over the weekend. 

DeSantis is currently running to succeed Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is term limited and running for the Senate. 

“Rep DeSantis, it seems you‘re confused as to ‘whatever I am,’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response. "I am a Puerto Rican woman. It‘s strange you don’t know what that is, given that ~75,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Florida in the 10 mos since María."

DeSantis asserted that the reason he's received backlash for his comments is due to "political correctness" running "amok." 

"It's a way to obscure scrutiny on her views, which are socialist and they're wrapped in ignorance," said DeSantis, who repeatedly took jabs at Ocasio-Cortez for her policies. 

DeSantis, who also chairs the national security subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, added that he doesn't "care whether she’s Puerto Rican, whether she’s Anglo-Saxon. I don’t care whether she’s an Eskimo."

Ocasio-Cortez has garnered attention from lawmakers since her upset victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a June primary election. Her victory has highlighted a rift within the Democratic Party and a debate over what kind of leadership it should have.

She has previously explained that democratic socialism, in her view, creates “a modern, moral and wealthy society" where "no American should be too poor to live.”