Pelosi says she relates to Ocasio-Cortez attack: ‘There’s no limit to the disrespect’ of women

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 23, 2020. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she can relate to the personal attack Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) faced this week from a GOP lawmaker that involved a sexist slur.

Republicans, she said, have “called me names” for the nearly two decades she has served in Democratic leadership.

As Pelosi was delivering her remarks at a press conference in the Capitol, Democrats were speaking on the House floor in defense of Ocasio-Cortez, who earlier this week was accosted by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). Yoho called her “disgusting” and “out of [her] freaking mind” on the steps of the Capitol over her suggestion that poverty was driving a recent crime spike in New York City. As he walked away, a reporter for The Hill witnessed Yoho add to no one in particular: “Fucking bitch.”

“The fact that the behavior of one of the members is such that the whole Democratic Women’s Caucus has gone to the floor at a time when our floor time is very precious tells you how important this is. And it’s a manifestation of attitudes in our society, really. I can tell you that firsthand. They’ve called me names for at least 20 years of leadership — 18 years of leadership,” Pelosi said.

“There’s no limit to the disrespect or the lack of acknowledgement of the strength of women. Nothing is more wholesome for our government, for our politics, for our country, than the increased participation of women. And women will be treated with respect,” Pelosi said. 

Pelosi, a mother of five, invoked an anecdote she frequently shares of a debate on the House floor years ago in which a GOP lawmaker expressed anger that she “thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.”

“Yes,” Pelosi said, laughing.

“What’s so funny is, you’d say to them, do you not have a daughter? Do you not have a mother? Do you not have a sister? Do you not have a wife? What makes you think that you can be so — and this is the word I use for them — condescending, in addition to being disrespectful?” Pelosi said. 

Ocasio-Cortez said in a House floor speech earlier Thursday that Yoho’s behavior was part of a “culture” of undermining women.

“This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is a culture of … impunity; of accepting of violence and violent language against women; and an entire structure of power that supports that.”

The day before, Yoho had offered an apology on the House floor for the “abrupt manner” of the confrontation he instigated with Ocasio-Cortez.

Yoho emphasized that the “offensive name-calling words” were not spoken directly to Ocasio-Cortez, but he stopped short of acknowledging that he said them.

“I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country,” Yoho said. 

Ocasio-Cortez rejected Yoho’s apology as insincere. 

“My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television. I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter. And that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apology Nancy Pelosi Ted Yoho Women in politics Yoho-Ocasio-Cortez conflict
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