GOP compares Ocasio-Cortez to Trump

A political neophyte from New York has an enormous Twitter following, punches back hard at the press, takes on critics within the party and has completely upended the Washington establishment.

No, it's not Donald Trump. It's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez, Bush criticize lack of diversity among negotiators on latest infrastructure deal Fetterman slams Sinema over infrastructure: 'Democrats need to vote like Democrats' House passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay MORE, the self-described democratic socialist whose sharp tongue, take-no-prisoners approach and 24/7 presence on social media and TV has Republicans on and off Capitol Hill comparing the 29-year-old freshman phenom to the 72-year-old president of the United States.

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Talk-show host Meghan McCain called Trump and Ocasio-Cortez “two sides of the same coin” and said the liberal, Latina bomb thrower from the Bronx was “just like Trump on Twitter.”

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerStefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism Kinzinger primary challenger picks up Cawthorn endorsement Budowsky: Liz Cheney, a Reagan Republican, and Pelosi, Ms. Democrat, seek Jan. 6 truth MORE (R-Ill.) said he, too, sees obvious parallels between DJT and AOC.

“Whether it’s President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE or AOC, it’s all based on ginning up anger and fear and it's unfortunate,” Kinzinger, a frequent cable news presence who has a relatively paltry 46,500 Twitter followers compared to Ocasio-Cortez’s 2.6 million, told The Hill.

“And I think it's that kind of stuff that's killing our ability to get done things like solve the government shutdown. … If you look at Twitter, not everyone is on Twitter, but all the loudest voices are,” he said.

A senior GOP source observing Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill put it more bluntly: “They are the same f---ing person. Think about it.”

“She’s about the extremes of her party: free college, free health care, jobs for all. Trump is about being tough on borders and pro-life policies,” the source said. “They are the bases of their parties and the loudest voices of their parties.”  

In a brief interview this week, Ocasio-Cortez scoffed at the suggestion that she’s anything like Trump, a political outsider who muscled his way to the top of his party in 2016 with a slash-and-burn approach and harsh, anti-immigrant message that have fractured Republicans in Washington.

“I think it’s an unoriginal comparison. While we’re both popular on Twitter … and we’re plain spoken, that’s it,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill. “Aside from that, I think it’s an irresponsible comparison given the fact that he’s actively trying to assert mythology and hurt immigrants, and we’re trying to advance a progressive agenda, single-payer health care and a living wage.”

Many fellow Democrats praised Ocasio-Cortez for injecting youth into a party dominated by septuagenarian legislators, mastering social media to engage a new set of voters and shifting the national debate on a Green New Deal on climate change, universal health care, higher wages and a 70 percent tax rate on those making at least $10 million. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez — recently spotted dancing on Twitter and cooking on Instagram Live — earned kudos from colleagues for leading a workshop on how lawmakers can be more effective on social media platforms.

“Absurd” is how Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalCongress must lower the Medicare Age to save the lives of older Americans House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy MORE (D-Wash.), a key progressive leader in Congress, described the Trump–Ocasio-Cortez comparisons. “She’s an extremely smart member of Congress who represents her district and has been putting forth ideas that will move the country forward.”

“I think she’s bright, articulate, energetic and passionate,” added centrist Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Surgeon who treated Gabby Giffords after shooting launches House bid in Arizona These House lawmakers aren't seeking reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Ariz.), who represents a swing district on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse bill targets US passport backlog Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Tlaib, Democrats slam GOP calls for border oversight to fight opioid crisis MORE (D-Va.) called Ocasio-Cortez one of a kind: “She's sui generis. She's uniquely her own. She's resembles no one else.”

But Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has also rubbed many of her senior Democratic colleagues the wrong way.

Some are still smarting from her shocking victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the Queens power broker and House Democratic Caucus chairman, in a primary race last summer. Others have taken issue with her association with Justice Democrats, a liberal outside group that helped her knock off Crowley and has vowed to target other entrenched Democrats, including Rep. Henry Cuellar (R-Texas) and others the group does not deem progressive enough.

Her chief of staff and communications director, Saikat Chakrabarti and Corbin Trent, respectively, both helped found Justice Democrats.

Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyCynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney The Hill's Morning Report - McConnell pressures Dem leaders to follow Biden's infrastructure lead The Memo: The center strikes back MORE was one of the most loyal Democrats I’ve ever met here. He was a hard worker. He was a bridge builder, and we should all try to be bridge builders,” Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Jan. 6 probe poised to spill into 2022, with no complaints from Democrats MORE (D-N.J.), a close Crowley friend, told The Hill. “To me, this is a time to unite to get something positive done for the country. In the midst of the [government shutdown] chaos, you’re talking about moving against one of your own? To me that doesn’t make much sense."

“She’s not Donald Trump; she’s not a divider,” Pascrell said. “But I don’t agree with what she’s doing.”

Added Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who’s also been critical of Ocasio-Cortez in the past: “I don’t think we should target each other. I don’t like that part.”

Other Democratic critics privately say they’re just sick of being asked about her and talking about her, just as much as they’re sick of Trump. They see her as a media celebrity like Trump, who won his first political office with no experience in policymaking or governing.

“It’s a very fair comparison,” said one Democratic lawmaker, who is no fan of either Trump or Ocasio-Cortez. “Some in [the media] are doing a disservice because you’ve lifted her to such heighty lofts. Here’s someone who’s never been in a legislative position or an executive position — that’s going to cause her to fall. She’s 29 years old and has no concept of what being an effective legislator is all about."

“Let’s see who she gravitates to for president. Hopefully, she’ll want to run herself and get her ass out of here,” the lawmaker said just off the House floor.

Ocasio-Cortez generally has been friendly to the Capitol Hill press corps, granting brief hallway interviews and speaking to reporters at recent receptions around town.

But she never hesitates to unleash her 2.6 million Twitter followers on specific reporters or news outlets when she feels she’s been wronged — another similarity to Trump.

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez engaged in a Twitter fight with National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar‏ after she criticized CBS News for the diversity of its 2020 campaign team. Kraushaar replied: “Another thing AOC has in common with Trump: media scold.”

Ocasio-Cortez quickly hit back: “Or: maybe having powerful editorial positions awash in people from one race, class, or gender isn’t a good idea; since we get 1000% more takes on ‘brown lady says a curse word’ than an actual white supremacist in Congress.

“If you won’t look the mirror, people will do it for you.”

Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez hit back at The Hill for publishing the headline: “Ocasio-Cortez: I give ‘zero’ f---s about pushback from other Democrats.” The congresswoman had been asked by late-night comedian Stephen Colbert “how many f---s” she gave when criticized by members of her party. She put her hands in the shape of a “O” and said “zero.”

“I actually didn’t say this, so while I know ‘brown women cursing’ drives clicks, maybe you accurately quote the whole exchange instead of manipulating people into thinking I said this sentence instead of just the word ‘zero,’” she replied in a tweet.

It was retweeted 32,000 times.

This story was updated at 12:14 p.m.