AOC to Nancy Pelosi: "That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., exchanges harsh words with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a recent bill

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 7, 2019 12:00PM (EDT)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Nancy Pelosi (Getty//Don Emmert/Zach Gibson)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Nancy Pelosi (Getty//Don Emmert/Zach Gibson)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., responded to a dismissive comment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about her supporters' "public whatever" by tweeting that "that public 'whatever' is called public sentiment."

Ocasio-Cortez's remark was prompted by a comment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was quoted in The New York Times on Saturday criticizing the New York legislator and three of her Democratic colleagues — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — for voting against a border funding bill that had the support of a majority of House Democrats.

"All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world, but they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got," Pelosi said, according to The New York Times.

Ocasio-Cortez hit back in a Twitter post on Saturday.

"That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country."

She later added, "I find it strange when members act as though social media isn’t important. They set millions of ? on ? to run TV ads so people can see their message. I haven’t dialed for dollars *once* this year, & have more time to do my actual job. Yet we’d rather campaign like it’s 2008."

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, one of the Democrats insulted by Pelosi in her interview with the Times, addressed the criticisms during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

"You know people like us, people like me and Ayanna [Pressley of Massachusetts], Ilhan [Omar of Minnesota] and Alexandria, we’re reflective of our nation in many ways. But many of us didn’t run to be first of anything, but more people like us have been missing in the halls of Congress," Tlaib explained.

She added, "More people like us, people of color have been missing in the chamber because most of us – and Ayanna Pressly says it more beautifully, people that are closest to the pain needs to be at the table making these decisions. Guess what, we know what it feels like to be dehumanized. We know what it feels like to be brown and black in this country. And I'll tell you right now, we're not going to stand by and sit idly by and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents do be dehumanized."

This isn't the first time that Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi have butted heads since the New Yorker joined Congress earlier this year. In May Ocasio-Cortez criticized Pelosi for her unwillingness to pursue impeachment against Trump by saying, "I trust the speaker is taking a measured approach to ensure that we're moving everyone forward. I know that, you know, being a speaker is hard. Holding this party together is a difficult task, but I think that we know what we need to do. I personally believe that we have to move forward." Meanwhile in February Pelosi slammed Ocasio-Cortez's proposed Green New Deal by saying, "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Alexandria Ocasio-cortez All Salon Ayanna Pressley Ilhan Omar Nancy Pelosi News & Politics Rashida Tlaib